Five minutes with… PortfolioMetrix’s Mike Roberts

PortfolioMetrix, UK managing director & head of innovation Mike Roberts says in order to thrive firms need a change culture. He can be found at the Money Marketing Interactive conference in April discussing if one of the changes needed is gaining discretionary permissions.

What is the most encouraging advice market trend you are seeing at the moment?

Advisers that are confident in the value they add for the fees they charge. Financial advice is now all about transparency so there is no place left for bundling fees and services into one single opaque fee. Every fee that a client pays needs to be for a service that is valuable. When you list all the areas financial advisers can add value to their clients’ lives it is staggering how much there is.

But they can only be truly expert in a few of those areas, so part of the adviser’s role is to bring their expertise together with other specialists to provide best of breed services. Investment management is a key area that should be left to specialists with the time, resources, expertise, knowledge and experience to do the best for the client.

What key reforms would help get people saving more?

As with most things in life it comes down to knowledge. As we know inside the industry the factor that most impacts someone’s ability to hit their life goals is how much they save and when they start. For people to be finding out about this in their 40s and 50s is crazy. School is the obvious place to start, but I feel there needs to be a mechanism to help all the people past school age.

The government have put a lot of effort into trying to educate people about having a healthier lifestyle to extend their lives, but not having enough money to cover your costs in later life, or worse still, running out of money when you are elderly is alarming to say the least.

How important do you think coaching and life planning are to a modern advice business?

Coaching is essential as the client holds the key to the most important factors like saving, investing and more importantly staying invested when, emotionally, they want to cash out. Coaching clients to behave correctly is therefore really important as it is the client that can undermine a really good financial plan with their ‘bad’ financial behaviour. Life planning and cash flow modelling is the carrot and stick that gets clients to behave correctly.

What do you think marks out a truly innovative planning practice today?

As with most stand out firms around the world, innovation is at the heart of what they do. By its very definition innovation requires change, so firms must have a change culture at the core of their business principles. Advisers who embrace technology and the innovations that opens up are the ones to watch, especially those who surround themselves with support staff who understand technology and can act quickly to adapt business processes to take advantage of new technological advances. Using technology in a smart way helps advisers do business more cost effectively, efficiently and more quickly.

The firms that do this are the ones that will still be around in 20 years.

What should we be doing to get more new advisers into the profession?

The answer is in the question with this one. Financial advice as a ‘profession’ needs professionals that are held in the same esteem socially as accountants, lawyers and doctors. Professionalism has some obvious traits like qualifications, professional bodies etc, but there are some less obvious traits as well that make the difference like ethics and transparency.

We need to build a profession where parents have aspirations that their children become financial advisers. I have met a lot of very successful professional financial advisers, but I’ve also met a lot out to make a quick buck. Qualifications, starting at GCSEs, through A-level and into undergraduate degrees, are needed and should not just cover how to sell products. They should train people how to build a robust financial plan, coach clients to stick with it through the tough times, manage a team, ethics etc. This will create a well-qualified army of professional advisers ready to take on the robots.

Mike is speaking on a panel looking at the discretionary dilemma: does your firm need new permissions at MMI London. Register for your free place here.

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