I am lucky enough to know most of the protection-focused advisers who regularly grace the pages of Money Marketing.
It is a great pleasure to know such a committed bunch of professional people. They really do care about making sure clients get the right advice and they have a passion for protection.
The award season will be upon us in earnest soon and some advisers, knowing that I judge a number of adviser awards, ask me what a judge looks for in a good IFA. Within the bounds of legitimate, objective comment, I try to clarify this but I do not think any panel would have selection criteria that would differ significantly from what a client requires – a knowledgeable, hard working and client-focused adviser who looks at client relationships in the long term rather than as a one-off encounter.
There is one thing that a client would probably not specify which is, to paraphrase John F Kennedy: “Ask not what your industry can do for you, ask what can you do for your industry.”
When I advance this point of view, a lot of advisers reply with comments suggesting they are self-employed and have no time. I have little sympathy with this argument as I am self-employed to.
I am not suggesting much more than 5-10 per cent of your time but I think all advisers should try to join forums where they can let companies and regulators know what life is really like. Join local Personal Finance Society activities and institutes to promote learning and look to engage with seminars and industry meetings – as speakers not just as participants.
It is also very helpful to get accurate insights on the advisers’ lot from those at the coalface, so helping with research initiatives is very important.
Some of the more prominent advisers are among the busiest people I know. Their wider involvement does entail a degree of self-sacrifice, even if it aids their market profile, and extra-curricular activity can, of course, get out of hand but we have shining examples in this very paper of the sort of individuals who get the balance right.
Not everybody has the vision and charisma of Tom Baigrie who has led some worthwhile campaigns on behalf of the industry but even if you cannot lead, you can follow, advise and instruct the wider public and industry colleagues about key aspects of being a financial adviser.
I get huge benefits in learning about what talking to and advising customers entails. Without your input and willingness to engage with the wider industry, we cannot move in the right direction.
Please do not hide your light under a bushel. Look to see where your involvement can lead to greater industry enlightenment. It may not lead to glittering prizes but it will lead to a better industry.
Peter Le Beau is managing director of Le Beau Visage