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Dear Rob & Roderic...

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Our resident agony uncles and The Ideas Lab directors Rob Reid and Roderic Rennison answer adviser questions

Q. VAT

Given the recent press on VAT, I am thinking of de-registering as I believe I was wrongly advised to do so in the first place. What is your view?

A. ROB
Are you clear about your firm’s post-RDR propositions? Do you know what other advisers working with you will do? This should all inform your decision-making

A. RODERIC
I would not change for a couple of reasons. First, the HMRC guidance is not yet final and there could be further changes, in particular, around VAT on ongoing adviser charging. Second, can you be sure that your firm will not be providing a signif-icant amount of advice only? The best course of action is to wait and have the full facts before taking action. To de-register and then re-register would be time-consuming.

Q. Self-assessment

I am in a small firm and we cannot reach agreement on our post-RDR proposition. I want to move more upmarket and focus on high-networth clients. I know this will involve me finding new clients as I will not have enough from within my existing client base. My two colleagues want to cont-inue to work with their existing clients, arguing that there will be less change involved. What would you advise me to do?

A. ROB
I think you need to carry out a personal skills audit both on yourself and your colleagues. You need to be honest with yourself and ask whether there are gaps in order to advise HNW clients. Are you clear what they are and how you will bridge them? The changes you make may enable you to increase your earnings significantly and the embedded value of your business but there is no substitute for careful planning and execution.

A. RODERIC
Are you clear how you are going to access potential HNW clients and how you are going to win and keep them as clients, bearing in mind that there is a lot of competition and arguably not enough business to go around? Also, is your firm geared up to do so in terms of resources within the business to deliver the services required? Conversely, your colleagues may also need to reconsider their position as they may not have fully considered aspects such as underlying client profitability. This begs the question of whether you have done a detailed segmentation exercise that takes into account the profitability of your existing clients.

Q. Recruitment

I am 62, highly organised and think that the self-assessment alternative developed by SimplyBiz may be a better alternative for me. What do you think?

A. ROB
If you achieve QCF Level 4, your financial position will be significantly improved. Failure to do so leaves you with far fewer options.

A. RODERIC
I infer from your question that you have yet to start your studies or have concluded that with your progress to date, you will switch tack. Alternative assessment is not an easy option but if you can apply yourself, then you should definitely proceed. What is important is your motivation. If you want to achieve QCF Level 4, then the likelihood is that you will succeed in doing so.

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