Everyone achieves more as a team, leveraging the skills of others, focusing on core strengths and pulling in the same direction towards a common set of goals.
The word team has been on my mind a lot as the retail distribution review approaches. Moving away from the debate about minimum qualification requirements and adviser charging, the really interesting opportunities from the RDR are all around business structures.
For the past two years we have advocated a team-based approach to the delivery of financial advice within our own business, a structure we credit to Phil Billingham, who came up with the notion of finder-minder-support to replace the traditional adviser-administrator model.
The old system saw advisers responsible for everything from client acquisition, research and report writing to the submission of new business. They would then have to fight to convince the compliance team that what they had done was suitable.
We used to work on this basis. It is not harmonious and is certainly not very efficient.
Trying to juggle a wide range of skills while growing a business prevents people from reaching their full potential. The finder-minder-support model deals with these inefficiencies by ensuring the right people are doing the right jobs. It allows individuals to focus on their strengths and specialise, adding maximum value to the business. It frees up those in the finder role to acquire new clients and allows minders time to engage with clients face to face.
Comparing these two models raises important questions. Should an individual financial adviser post-RDR really be responsible for research and report writing? Can compliance and suitability ever be consistently achieved in an environment where it is checked after the delivery of the advice?
Within the finder-minder-support model, suitability can be checked before the client is exposed to any advice. Advice is agreed by a support team under the control of the business-owners, who take responsibility for compliance. With this model, the risk of advice being delivered before it is checked for suitability should be minimal.
There will be barriers to overcome if this structure is to become more widely adopted. Advisers have long been used to doing everything in the advice process from ’cradle to grave’.
A team-based approach also requires a rethink on the allocation of remuneration. Advisers who fulfil finder and minder roles should be able to earn more when they have more time to focus on client-facing activity but the value per activity moves from adviser to support team who do more of the valuable work.
Martin Bamford is managing director of Informed Choice