It is encouraging to see the recent announcement from the FCA that adviser numbers have increased by almost 6 per cent since 1 January. According to the regulator, this increase has been caused by advisers re-entering the market after the RDR changes came into effect.
But getting qualified and authorised is only half of the battle. If advisers are to have a successful and long-lasting career, establishing a profitable and robust service proposition will be just as important.
For us at the IFP this is a key consideration. With the introduction of the RDR, advisers have had to deal with a period of considerable change. Much of this has focused on qualifications, CPD and standards of professionalism.
Having sound technical knowledge is essential for advisers, and, for most, keeping this information up to date forms part of their ongoing CPD.
However, what is often lacking is any real emphasis on how advisers can ensure that the quality and efficiency of the service they provide for clients is going to be up to the mark in future.
It is becoming clearer that the FCA is moving away from regulation based on the distribution of products, and is much more focused on service standards, something which is likely to increase in future.
So what can advisers do to clearly demonstrate the added value of the service they provide, both to the regulator as well as to prospective and existing clients?
Since the IFP was established back in 1986, our emphasis has been on helping advisers to develop the necessary skills to augment their strong technical knowledge. The aim is to help advisers to deliver a powerful financial planning service to their clients, which they will be happy to pay for year in year out.
It does not matter what you call it, the essence is about building high quality client relationships that last. The RDR has meant that more and more advisers are now taking a closer look at what they do and how they do it, looking for ways to be more effective and adding even more value for clients.
Our annual members’ survey carried out over the summer showed notable increases in the importance attaching to the use of paraplanners, cash flow modelling, life planning and social media being reported by IFP members. To meet this growing demand, the IFP has developed a two day workshop on integrated financial planning.
Being able to use powerful time versus value of money calculations with their clients as well as with broader issues around communication are great ways to boost greater engagement and trust.
Sue Whitbread is communications director at the Institute of Financial Planning