More Tales From The IFP
The last in the Tales From The IFP Conference series.
At the IFP Conference, back in October, I did a series of short interviews with some great advisers who were circulating over the three days. One of the questions I asked them was: What Is The Future Of Financial Planning? This is what they said.
What Is The Future Of Financial Planning?
1. “It’s The Place Where Meaning & Money Meet”Simon Boulter and Mo Bowen from Boulter Bowen Wealth Care quoted a line they’d heard in the past: “Financial Planning is the place where meaning and money meet.”
Simon goes on to say:
“no one else gets into this rich emotional zone, empowering people to do the things they could only have dreamed of.”
For many readers, I know we’re preaching to the choir, but there is still a long way to go. The rich experience that Simon and Mo describe all stems from an adviser’s ability to ask amazing questions of clients; questions that allow them to see the possibilities for themselves. It doesn’t come from advisers telling people what’s possible, or their technical prowess with esoteric products and strategies. Leonardo Da Vinci said that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” and this was never more true than in relation to Financial Planning for individuals.
If you are not quite full bottle on great questioning technique, check out the gurus like Bill Bachrach, George Kinder or Maria Nemeth and get on one of their courses. Or if you want a quicker get-started approach, get along to my Selling Skills Workshop
2. “We Are Under-Represented In Society. That Will Change.”Ken Welsh of VWM Wealth Management quoted there are approximately 23,000 financial advisers, 150,000 lawyers and 500,000 accountants registered in the UK.
It’s pretty clear that what great Financial Planners deliver should, and will, be more widely represented in the future. As swarms of advisers leave our emerging profession due to RDR pressures, or retire at the end of their careers, there will be huge demand for quality people to come and fill this need for quality advice.
I recall in the Australian market many years ago there was a massive exodus of advisers as we went through our own version of RDR (the Financial Services Reform). Rather then being the death of the industry it was the renaissance.
Over the next 5 years things changed to the point where large accounting firms couldn’t recruit commerce graduates from university, because they all wanted to move straight into financial planning!
I’ve heard this question asked at various industry events:
Depsite many negative responses, it’s my belief that we will see the same demand for this career in the UK as we witnessed in Australia. We are at the start of this journey, not the end of it.
3. “Fake Financial Planning Will Get Found Out.”
Charles Wood from Bloomsbury said that the future of true financial planning was very good, although when pushed by my tenacious interviewing style he had to accept that the future for fake financial planning was not nearly so bright. Paxman eat your heart out!
4. “There Are Challenges For Our Profession.”Tim Hale of Albion Strategic Consulting made the point (as did many others I interviewed) that we need to be spreading the word about the great work we do, so it can be recognised and valued more widely by the general public. Sadly, we are still the best kept secret on the planet.
We can’t deflect blame or responsibility for this failure onto the IFP or the PFS, our networks or any other group. We all play a role in spreading the word, and we do that one client at a time in face-to-face relationships.
I know we sell one of the most intangible services in the world and it will take time. However, if every firm made a commitment to improve their own marketing and positioning, the broader industry marketing job becomes a thousand times easier. It’s time we all took responsibility for that.Mike Azlen from Frontier Investment Management also mentioned the P word: profitability (cheeky Canadian). He asks: is there a model out there that can provide advice and make a profit?
There are still far too many firms where the business owners earn an income but make little or no real profits. Good profit (25% of turnover is what good looks like) is what’s left after the owners and advisers get paid a true market salary for the role they perform in the business. If you are unsure what your market salary is, ask yourself: what would I get paid if I went to work with one of my competitors down the road and took my existing client bank with me?
Profits matter for the future of our profession, as without them there is no money available for re-investment in systems and technology, R&D work, or attracting top talent. All of which we need if we are going to prosper in the long run.
Mike’s thoughts also alluded to the fact that quality advice needs to be more widely available so that mainstream members of society (not just the wealthy) can afford to access it. But can firms find a way to make a profit from that too?
Contrary to the popular view that the FCA (via RDR) have crucified advice to the mass market, I believe they have cleared the way for new and innovative approaches (using technology) that will allow quality advice to filter down and be available more cheaply than it is today. We are already seeing some firms make moves in that direction.
5. “The Future Is Limitless.”
Steve Martin from Smart Financial Planning gets the last word again this week when he says:
“The future is just limitless because we do the most simple things: we help people get what they want out of their lives and make their lives better. There is an unlimited capacity for us to do that. So the future of financial planning is absolutely golden as long as we remember it’s about the other person, it’s not about us.”
I think he’s summed it up perfectly.Click to watch the interviews.
Once you’ve got the pieces of the jigsaw in place, the key is creating a point of difference in the mind of your clients. Sadly, most clients don’t understand or care about the range of titles we’ve created for ourselves in an attempt to stand out: Independent Financial Adviser, Financial Planner, Wealth Manager, Life Planner…they just don’t get it! Changing your title is not differentiation. True differentiation comes from owning a space in the market, doing different things to your competitors or more often doing the same things, but in a different way. This webinar covers how to differentiate and market your business more effectively.Click here to join me and I look forward to seeing you there!
I’d love to know your thoughts on this newsletter, or any questions it raises for you. Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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by Brett Davidson