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Five minutes with…Yardstick Agency’s Phil Bray

Bray-PhilDirector of The Yardstick Agency Phil Bray on how advisers can show they are value for money and whether profit levels are sustainable.

Catch him speaking at the Money Marketing Interactive conference on 12 September in Harrogate.

What soft skills are needed for a modern adviser and why?

The key skill advisers and planners need is empathy. People only generally seek professional advice when they have a trigger; a problem they need to solve or aspiration they want to achieve. Advisers and planners need to show empathy with the prospective client while demonstrating that they have the knowledge, skills and experience to help the prospective client.

How can advisers show they are value for money?

Financial planning changes lives so there’s no better way of demonstrating value than by showing outcomes. The best way of doing that is through client video. However, very few firms make the effort, which means that those who do will genuinely set themselves apart.

Are profit levels across the advice industry sustainable?

I’ll sound pedantic, but first things first, we should be referring to the advice profession. Not industry. That said, I believe that profit levels are sustainable for small and medium-sized firms, despite the headwinds that financial planners are currently battling. Larger organisations often have different challenges, however, there’s no doubt that some will make it work, while others will continue to struggle.

Will fund, platform, or advice charges really cave to downward pressure?

Each is facing different pressures. When it comes to the advice profession I’m not convinced we’ll see a significant reduction in charges. Advisers and planners face increased costs, which means reducing charges isn’t an option if they wish to maintain margins. At the same time, the advice gap continues to widen and the need for advice, driven by an increasingly complex legislative environment, means advice has never been more important.

What will the advice profession look like in 10 years’ time?

The future is healthy and in safe hands. I believe that over the next 10 years the benefits of financial planning will reach the mainstream. We’ll also see the next generation of advisers come through to start and run some genuinely exciting businesses.

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