Thameside Financial Planning’s Tom Kean looks at why life planning is so important to his firm before taking on the robo-advice revolution at Money Marketing Interactive.
What is the most encouraging advice market trend you are seeing at the moment?
Fewer defined benefit transfers.
What one word or phrase do you think sums up the state of the financial planning profession today?
What key reforms would help get people saving more?
In three words: “simplification”, “consistency” and “confidence”. Simplification of tax and regulations would lead to consistency in products and knowledge generally, giving the consumer more confidence that the constant tinkering has stopped and that they can rely on the various tax wrappers being around when they come to take benefits, possibly decades in the future. Start with the first one and the rest will follow.
What do we need to do to improve financial literacy in the UK?
Start in school and then keep it going with the first steps into employment by encouraging businesses to engage with advisers, especially for their younger staff and higher earners, both of which are very much in need of good advice. Unfortunately, because of the RDR, the days of “free advice” at work are the exception rather than the rule – it needs to be the other way round.
How important do you think coaching and life planning are to a modern advice business?
I think it very much depends on the in-house style and what you want to achieve. Thameside try very hard on this front. We think about every facet of a clients’ experience when engaging with the firm, from the moment they arrive to when they leave, and beyond obviously. Central to this is the cashflow modelling we do for every client.
Our view is that we gather detailed client data anyway, so we simply feed that into a cashflow model at the same time and then base all subsequent advice on that holistic model. It’s a very easy and natural next step to take by broadening discussions to life issues, which is, happily, more often than not a much more gratifying and engaging way of dealing with people.
What is the one key skill all aspiring advisers should learn?
Listening to others in the same proportion to your mouth and ears.