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Independent view

When you witness an event on the scale of September 11 there are no words to describe how you feel because it is an experience you have never encountered before.

None of our lives will ever be the same. For those that were directly affected I cannot even begin to understand what or how they must be feeling. Even to say that it puts everything into perspective is not true because there is no comparison we can make.

However, what we do know is that the majority will cope with it and get on with their lives – even though their lives will be radically altered.

How it will change our lives we cannot be sure, as there are personal feelings and business issues – the former dependent on your emotions and the latter on what unfolds and which industry you are in.

We are all in the same business so we need to try and assess whether there are implications for us as financial advisers and if so, what we should be doing about it.

Whether or not you link September 11 with the prospect of a world recession does not matter. However, it is clear we are in a different environment to the one we were trading in just over two months ago, even though we probably had not noticed that the writing had been on the wall for some months, if not years.

Uncertainty over full employment, stockmarket gyrations and wars tend to make people delay making decisions. These are the times when your clients need you most. They want reassurance that their current investments are right and they need your guidance that now is the time to act. You need to be positive in your outlook and look for the opportunities so you can pass them on to your clients.

We must get used to the fact that we are in a low-interest, low-inflation environment. Expectations from our clients and ourselves must be more realistic. Equally, when there is less cake to go round we must be prepared, along with the providers, to have our margins squeezed.

I would urge you all to look at costs, examine your effectiveness and, if you have not already done so, change your business model in line with the markets.

If a small investment in technology and training will improve your profitability, do it. If taking on or cutting back that extra member of staff of staff improves your profitability, do it.

The requirement for financial advice has never been greater. However, in order to deliver it to a larger audience for less cost we need to work smarter.

Do not delay making those key decisions because they will only get harder as the implications of this act of terrorism feed through the system.

Steve Kelland is chairman of the Burns-Anderson Network

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