The special relationship between the UK and the US extends beyond politics and is felt deep within financial services. Consider some of their lead figures, such as George Kinder, Maria Nemeth, Mark Tibergien, Dimensional and Vanguard, and you can appreciate the extent of US influence.
We tend to see them as closer to the leading edge of where things are going, although I am not so sure. I have been travelling to the US on a regular basis for the past 15 years or so as I have friends there. I have been introduced to their friends and have become part of their community. I have also become friendly with Steve, a financial adviser with clients from some of New York’s wealthier commuter towns in New Jersey.
I was out to dinner recently with a few people, including Steve. He was continually on his Blackberry and did not look relaxed and I wondered why.
It seems his clients were spooked by the markets and were constantly texting him. I compared this with my portfolio of clients who, by and large, are riding the waves.
After some discussion, we figured out it boiled down to a different culture in the US and it is not one that I would readily want to import. This difference was brought into sharper definition during a conversation about healthcare with some senior citizens.
I was lost for words as they reeled off the drugs they were on. There was a strange sense of pride attached to the ever growing list, which was crowned by one fit-looking senior announcing he had just been scheduled for a pacemaker.
We got into a debate about healthcare and financial advice and concluded that what they believed they were paying for was action, however that might be defined.
Getting things done equates to value for money for them. Whether it is getting maximum bang for their buck by their health insurance paying for procedures or having a very active portfolio manager, no one was prepared to just let things happen. Intervention was the name of the game.
I should admit I have read, listened to and acted on a lot of advice from over the pond and a lot of it makes sense to me but not all translates to the UK marketplace. The more I visit the US, the more I feel the need to take a huge marker pen and strike through a lot of what they are telling us.
But therein lies a problem. Who in the UK is able to act with the same degree of conviction and acceptance? I really am struggling to name home-grown talent that commands as much attention from consumers as the North American names that spring to mind. And even if I could, would I be prepared to listen to them?
Dennis Hall is managing director at Yellowtail Financial Planning