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Tony Wickenden: Politics is making advice even more important

Uncertainty is the new certainty and, whatever happens next in the world of politics, clients will need advice more than ever

The general election will be old news when you read this but what I want to look at this week is still super-relevant.

Whatever happens – right, left or somewhere in between, soft or hard Brexit – the need for advice in making financial decisions remains overwhelmingly important.

Clients face choices about the likes of their investments, the taxation of those investments, how to accumulate and take benefits from their pensions, death benefits and protection – both personal and for their business. And that is just scratching the surface.

With every new piece of legislation, every new interpretation and every new product development will come more choices.

Uncertainty is the new certainty and there will continue to be a mass of difficult decisions facing clients. But with this comes anxiety and with anxiety comes the need for help. Enter the trusted, knowledgeable adviser.

Indeed, regardless of whether the adviser is independent or restricted, what matters is being knowledgeable and trusted. Clients care more about what the adviser knows than what their regulatory status is.

Being chartered is a great help and it is becoming an increasingly bigger factor in worthiness for consideration.

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With that foundation in place you then have the opportunity to show the attractiveness of what you can offer; your ability to match the needs of the clients to the opportunities out there. To quote a pretty old saying: simple but not easy.

Being up to date with all the relevant changes, knowing what they mean and matching them to your clients’ situations is an important part of developing specific and personal advice, as opposed to general guidance.

And let us not underestimate the importance of keeping up to date with seemingly small changes with regards to the financial plan, ensuring it is reviewed regularly and adapted if necessary.

It would be easy to miss or not take seriously technical changes in relation to the financial planning process. True, ignoring one or two may not make a huge difference to the quality of the planning delivered. Over time, however, the chance of a sub-optimal outcome for clients is going to be increased. In fact, just missing one change could be financially fatal for a certain type of client. So best not to risk it: keeping up to date is essential.

Anyway, back to the election and the impact on our work in the advice sector. Regardless of how you feel about the result, advice is going to be needed even more. Yes, even more.

Remember: uncertain times equal the certain need for more help in making tough choices or in discovering important choices you did not even know existed.

Whatever political party (or combination thereof) holds power, I believe the following amount to inevitable truths:

  • Taxation will be high on the political agenda
  • Clients will remain interested in (legitimately) avoiding it
  • Aggressive tax avoidance will continue to be attacked
  • Tax-efficient saving and investing will remain possible
  • Complex choices will remain
  • Advice remains essential
  • Advice alpha (the additional benefit delivered to clients through well-informed, experienced advice) remains valued and in high demand.

Tony Wickenden is joint managing director of Technical Connection. You can find him Tweeting @tecconn

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