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Make a difference

September sees the inaugural Financial Planning Week in the UK. While organised by the IFP, this is designed to be the start of a consumer education programme in financial planning.

The week will run from September 8-14 and full information can be found on the bespoke website www.financialplan

A major consumer survey has been undertaken with Yougov and NS&I, with some fascinating results emerging. If it proves nothing else, we still have some way to go to gain the confidence and understanding of the UK consumer.

We keep hearing about all the problems of rising debt, the lack of savings and pension provision but hardly ever do we hear about any positive steps taken or practical help to really help people to sort things out for themselves.

Where such initiatives have occurred, they tend to have been lacklustre or because they were Government-led, generated some apprehension and doubt rather than the inspiration to take action. No one expects just one week to bring about a dramatic change in attitudes but as similar campaigns in the US and Australia have proved, these initiatives can make a huge difference over the longer term and this is exactly what the IFP is aiming for.

Financial Planning Week aims to get people to think about their financial situation, the importance of planning to their daily lives and their future and to help them to work out their life goals.

It is surprising how few people have really worked out what it is in life that is most important to them. The week will cater for the needs of a wide range of people from the debt laden to the more affluent. The main aim will be to cut through the jargon so often associated with the financial world and just direct people to a clear yet unbiased path towards some of the simple processes they can follow to make a difference to their own situations.

Each day will have a theme corresponding with a particular area which is an important part of the process in planning your finances and indeed your life:

Monday: setting goals in lifeTuesday: budgetingWednesday: make the most of what you’ve gotThursday: protecting yourself against unforeseen eventsFriday: saving and Investing.

The weekend will cover more generic topics such as what getting professional advice might entail and how advisers charge for services.

This campaign is not specifically aimed at promoting professional advice. Instead, it will highlight the need for people to take more control of their own financial situation by facing up to the areas that need some attention and taking some positive action.

The campaign is largely PR and website driven. The IFP, working with its nationwide network of branches, will be co-ordinating the campaign across the UK, including radio and TV interviews. Over £75,000 has been committed to the campaign so far and support from sponsors NS&I, JP Morgan and Defaqto has been invaluable in assisting this launch. The work required to deliver this first week is also considerable and the need to engage with the widest sections of the media takes time effort and something of value to discuss and present.

The IFP community is responding but the long-term goal of the IFP is that momentum will build so that this profession can be seen to do something that genuinely helps consumers understand more about financial planning.

Nick Cann is CEO of the IFP


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