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Let’s put our house in order

As we are subjected to more and more reality TV shows, how long will it be before members of the financial services industry are put in a house for 10 weeks to sort out some of the mess that exists?

It surely could not be worse viewing than Celebrity Big Brother and might come up with some workable solutions.

It seems that some topics are debated for years without constructive solutions appearing but there are a number of people who relish the chance to be involved in those sorts of forums where little gets achieved.

This year will start to see the fallout from depolarisation as businesses try to ensure that their transition model is robust and able to compete against the banks and other distributors. One of the real challenges is to be able to use technology to improve efficiency and productivity.

Wrap technology and other tools are being thrust on the sector but many do not understand how to get the most benefit from them. More important, many businesses do not have the proposition to be able to use them.

We have just seen Prudential launch a consultancy service to help IFAs make the transition, joining the likes of Clerical Medical, Pivotal and Winterthur which are already active in this space.

The IFP has always taken a leading role in helping members move to an advice and service-based business. Our current workshops assist practitioners at all stages to transform successfully and profitably to a financial planning practice. The sessions are led by Brett Davidson of FP Transitions UK, whose background as a practitioner and business consultant in Australia before coming to the UK gives him a rare insight into business practice.

Getting the business model right and operating effectively is essential but the actual client proposition is also important if everything is going to fit together. When we talk of advice and service propositions, we are talking about financial planning. This is where the adviser changes the focus from the product and the solution to the objective advice and long-term strategy that the client is looking for.

By making this alteration, the firm will start to see huge benefits in the technology support that is available. I was shown the Selestia tools last week and can see the benefit to advisers using these tools if they are providing a financial planning service. Most advisers are not providing a comprehensive financial planning service and the IFP can help them understand how it can be developed.

For many, going through the Certified Financial Planner process is the start of the journey. Many more need help with the fundamentals of financial planning. Understanding the benefit of working with long-term cashflows, for example, is very powerful when seen in action with clients and provides a substantially different approach to mainstream advisers. Clients are happy to pay substantial fees and the opportunities are tremendous for those who take the bull by the horns.

If you were asked to put 10 financial services people in a house together, who would you choose to move our profession forward?

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