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Define and deliver

I started thinking why so many people were getting flustered about the RDR. It occurred to me that those firms which are already very client-focused and offer excellent client service with a proper remuneration structure and good qualifications are not really going to be too affected by the RDR. It is not going to make such a massive difference to their businesses as they are not likely to go through any kind of upheaval or transition in order to be RDR-ready.

There are clearly some businesses out there that the FSA is very worried about. These will typically operate with an old-style commission-only, transaction-based approach which does not necessarily put the client’s interests first. I am glad that these businesses are being targeted for improvement and hope that as many of them as possible will embrace the changes and turn their businesses into fantastic, well run, client-centric businesses so that we all come closer to working in a profession,

In many respects, the process of change is really quite straightforward. If you have already done the work I advocated in my last column sorting out your own personal financial goals so that you can decide what type of clients you need to look after and indeed how many), then what naturally follows is a process of defining exactly what services you are going to offer those clients. Only once you have defined this – and the resources you will require in order to provide those services – can you begin to implement the RDR proposals within your business.

If you are going to offer a comprehensive financial planning service – which gives you the most effective way of satisfying all client requirements and the opportunity to charge for services above pure just investment management – then you will have done much of what is necessary.

If you have defined your client service adequately, detailed exactly how and what you are going to charge for this service, clarified the type of clients to whom you want to market this service and ensured sufficiently robust processes are in place, then you are almost ready to go. Ultimately, this will result in happier clients and a healthier business.

The more I think about it, the more I begin to realise that the RDR could be one of the best things that has happened to our profession – it should get rid of the cowboys and it should encourage the good guys to get even better. That has to be good for everybody.

Julie Lord, CFP and chartered financial planner, Bluefin Wealth Management</B

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