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Five minutes with…Strategic Solutions’ Kevin Forbes

Not just a leading financial planner in his own right, Kevin Forbes has also worked tirelessly in his local community to promote financial education. Ahead of his appreance at the Money Marketing Interactive conference, he talks his passion for helping in schools and the future of regulation.

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

The slight increase in adviser numbers every year now since RDR decimated our population. We are almost back to the same number as in 2012. If we could double these numbers from here with quality and a diverse background advisers then I would be very happy about the good we can do for the community.

What one word or phrase do you think sums up the state of the financial planning profession today?

Elderly.

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What are the keys to winning over more consumers to start seeking advice?

Education of the general public to understand they need to seek help on certain personal finance issues. Teach people at least enough to know what looks good or bad and how to ask for help.

What key reforms would help get people saving more?

Make saving easier and gambling and borrowing harder. How did we ever get to this place where two clicks on a phone and you can borrow and gamble but to start saving we need a 10 page report and hours of research?

Certain firms who abide by specific sets of extra rules should be allowed to conduct ‘starter’ plans for new clients with reduced regulation and liabilities. I don’t mean simply allowing the banks back in to manufacture and distribute their rubbish via a robot, I mean proper IFA firms who want to help their communities and have a philanthropic or altruistic side to them and can be trusted. I fear however the FAMR report is tilted in favour of the banks coming rushing to our aid with their deep pockets and small print.

What do we need to do to improve financial literacy in the UK?

Make it a proper qualification. A ‘GCSE in Personal Finance’ would be much more useful than a load of the other stuff my children – and me many years ago – learn.

How relevant is knowing all the names and order of Henry VIII’s wives and how they died compared to knowing the difference between AER and APR and debit or credit cards? Or what compound interest looks like to savers or borrowers? Make it as important a part of the curriculum as anything else and then people wont get scammed for billions of pounds every year.

How can advisers best show their fees are worth it?

By charging appropriate amounts to do appropriate pieces of work and then properly explaining it to clients. Then actually doing the financial advising/planning part of the job instead of just pretending they are some sort of Warren Buffett stock picker staring at funds all day. Do the one thing the banks, discretionary managers and stockbrokers cant do: give proper quality financial advice and planning to people.

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

Get it taught in schools. Engage with local schools and colleges and universities. Run placement schemes and apprenticeships.

What is the one key skill all aspiring advisers should learn?

Empathy.

If you could make a magic wand, what one thing would you change about how the advice profession operates in the UK?

Replace the FCA, Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Financial Ombudsman Service with one joined up body with one message to us all, and then introduce a long stop to advice liability.

Forbes is speaking on a panel looking at the future of discretionary management at MMI London. Register for your free place here.

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