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The Financial Planning Service certified financial planner Julian Crooks: “Our main issue is marketing, or lack thereof, and trying to get in touch with the right clients. As a fee-based consultancy, we feel more could be done from a higher level to raise awareness of the benefits of fee-based consulting.

“The IFP and product providers need to do more for the industry as a whole and improve the balance of the offering to consumers. This is difficult in that in spite of the providers being best served by commission-based advisers, consumers still need to have both options available to them.”

Cavendish Young sales and development director Jeff Travis :”It is all about profitability, which is the key to any business. IFA firms are required to operate at the highest professional level and people who work with us need to have that professionalism. This costs a lot of money. It is a question that occupies our minds on a daily basis.

“IFAs are in such demand these days that they are entitled to ask for quite a lot of the action but we also have to pay for our offices, our lawyers, our accountants, our regulatory costs, and all kinds of other expenses in order to continue to serve the public. If we are to do this properly, we have to have enough paid to us by product providers. But people are busy trying to reduce the cost of the product to the point where there will be no IFAs around to sell it.”

IFAs who would like to find an expert to help them with business advice should email philip.scott@ centaur.co.ukMoney Marketing is launching a monthly series this week to help advisers improve their businesses.

The series will highlight areas where IFAs and brokers themselves would like to change the way that their businesses are run and will aim to provide them with some of the answers.

Readers can outline an experience they have had, for example, in a move to fees or in improving investment research capabilities where the process may not have gone as smoothly as planned or where the end result has not been that imagined. Money Marketing will then find experts from among our own columnists, from the relevant consultancies and from fellow IFAs with expertise in a particular area. We will also make use of Money Marketing Online to survey IFAs to get an idea of the pressing issues facing IFAs across the market.

In the first few issues, we will ask IFAs for their questions and experiences surrounding investment issues such as moving a business to trail commission, identifying how to utilise wraps, multi-manager and incorporate sources of investment research into a business. Later in the year, the section will also consider marketing and how to make sure that new requirements on the menu and disclosure can be incorporated into an intermediary’s communication with their clients to enhance their message and increase profitability.

In a few months, when the regulations become clearer, we will also be asking IFAs about the areas in which they may need some compliance advice to help them make sure that their new models meet the requirements of new regulations.

The watchword in financial services these days is profitability. Margins have tightened, competition after depolarisation will inevitably increase and the regulator is a constant presence which can, with the publication of another consultation paper, throw any business plan into dis-array. But demographics, the needs of clients and the flexibility of advisers should see IFA businesses thrive. We hope that this section will help them do better still.

IFAs who want Money Marketing to find an expert to help them with business advice should email philip.scott@centaur.co.ukChambers Morgan James director Marlene Shalton:”There are a lot of changes that we are going through, particularly with regulation. People who are sitting on the fence need to look at their business models to see where they are going because June will be with us very soon. The main challenge, though, is recruiting the right staff, especially with financial planners.It is difficult to find people who are technically good, who are prepared to study, and who have all the personal skills on top of honesty and integrity.

“The industry does not yet have a structure that attracts young graduates, for example. In my own experience, having been a probation officer, I brought people skills to the training as well as the willingness to study but this is a second career for me.”

Brian Dennehy, managing director,Dennehy Weller & Co:”The main problem is the average age of IFAs, which I believe is around 55. This is far too high as many of these people will have trouble adapting to an ever-changing industry where adjustments and new ideas are constantly needed to maintain growth.

“I have a guy working for me who is 65 and he is great at dealing with the changes thrust on us by new regulations and industry trends. But in general this average age is too high to be dynamic. We need more young people coming through. There are opportunities but we will not see the benefits for five-10 years.”

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At Neptune, we have been long-term believers in the Apple story, and continue to hold the stock in a number of our portfolios based on the company’s long-term growth prospects. This is predicated on our belief that Apple has proved thus far that it can — unusually for a consumer electronics company — maintain high margins for a sustained period of time, even as adoption of new technology slows down and competitors produce similar-specification products.

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