A lot has already been written about the success of the London 2012 Olympic games and I cannot believe many people, even those who are not big sports fans, will not have been swept up in the euphoria and felt proud to be British.
I was fortunate enough to have spent a day at the Olympic park and saw our ladies hockey team win the bronze medal. A waving sea of red, white and blue and the sheer exuberance of the crowd as the final horn sounded was an experience I will never forget. There was, however, something equally impressive and that was the amazing sense of unity and belonging. It sounds a bit clichéd but the carnival atmosphere around the whole of the Olympic park really made you feel part of one big happy family.
It will take a lot to surpass the amazing tally of team GB’s gold medals, many of which were attributed to the fantastic support of the home crowd, friends and family.
It did make me reflect on how important this is when faced with tough challenges and that over the past four years, since the last Olympics, how far our profession has come.
I am not simply referring to the challenges of the RDR but those presented by the continued economic downturn and eurozone uncertainty. Four years ago, it was predicted that up to 40 per cent of advisers would exit the market, businesses would go bust and financial planning would only be available to the privileged few.
None of this has materialised, in fact, quite the reverse. With tremendous effort and support from the sector, professional bodies – and, yes, friends and families – most advisers have achieved the required standard of qualification. Many have gone further and I will come back to this in a moment.
Business appears to be thriving as firms develop their client proposition and new ways of serving lower value clients are being created. The advisory sector has always been innovative and resilient and this trait has not diminished.
Casting my mind back to the last Olympics reminded me that I wrote about Going for Gold in this very column four years ago. The article referred to attaining chartered status and I would like to quote a part to demonstrate how far we have come. “The PFS now has nearly 1,500 chartered financial planners, each of whom has shown dedication, commitment and made sacrifices. While this may not quite be on an Olympiad’s scale, it still requires a lot of effort. When asked why they went for chartered status, many chartered financial planners have said “because it was there for the taking and I knew I could do it”, which demonstrates the competitive and challenging nature of the advisory sector.
Today, we have 3,141 chartered financial planners and 6,500 actively en route and the message is still the same, if you want financial planning to be recognised as a true profession, go for gold.
Fay Goddard is chief executive of the Personal Finance Society