Earlier this year, I finally became a paid-up supporter of Aifa. As a lobbying organisation, I historically felt the issues that Aifa fought for were not necessarily ones I agreed with. In recent years, our respective views have been slowly converging, although we do not see eye to eye on everything.
This convergence of opinion alone was not enough to see me stump up the joining fees but a single initiative, which I will come to shortly, has forced me to put my hand in my pocket.
Aifa has not been the recipient of my hard-earned cash in the past but I have been prepared to pay several thousands of pounds to business coaches and consultants and this has been money well spent. On reflection, the relationship between me and my business advisers is not dissimilar to that I have with my clients. As a financial planner, if you value the service you bring to your clients, then you will recognise the value that business advisers can bring.
It is no surprise to discover the people and companies who are ahead of the curve are the ones that work with external advisers. Likewise, clients working with financial planners are most likely to hit their financial goals. Yet, as we know, independent advice and financial planning is fast becoming the preserve of the better off, and there will be large parts of society that become excluded from such services.
It is not so different for the IFA community. Not everyone can afford to work one-on-one with an external adviser.
This brings me full circle to why I joined Aifa this year, and why every other IFA who is not yet a member should also join. In one of the most useful initiatives I have seen from our professional bodies, Aifa has launched an online academy to help IFAs make the transition their businesses in readiness for the impact of the RDR.
The cost is modest, simply the price of membership to Aifa. However, the quality of the material is worth far more.
Granted, this is not one-on-one coaching and it relies on the individual doing all of the legwork but the modules are extremely well thought out and delivered in a logical order.
For anyone who has never considered engaging a business coach but needs a detailed framework to get them in shape for life after the RDR, the Aifa academy is perfect. In fact, I would say it is a must.
Although I am largely prepared for life after RDR, I am still using the academy tools as a way of checking that I remain on track. It also means I can take the work with my business coaches to another level, knowing that RDR preparation is taken care of.
Despite the RDR, we continue to face other challenges to our businesses and this is where external advisers are helping me develop an edge. If professional advice is good enough for my clients, it is good enough for me.
Dennis Hall is managing director of Yellowtail Financial Planning