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Making the medicine go down

Using London Transport means there is always a need to have a ready supply of reading material. Now, you could suggest that I take advantage of reading the generous output of consultation papers from the FSA but, given their average weight, a hernia could follow.

Last week, I came across an article about non-compliance in one of the broadsheets. As it was not in the business or personal finance pages, I was instantly intrigued. In fact, the article was not about the misselling of personal finance products but about the non-compliance of doctors&#39 patients. This non-compliance could be someone not taking their medication or not taking advice to alter their lifestyle.

Perhaps, at last, we have uncovered the real candidates for execution-only or perhaps it should be expiration-only services? Seriously, if members of the public will not act on the advice of the medical profession, we should not be surprised that they will not often act on the advice they receive on financial matters.

The study that brought this problem to the attention of the press found that the patients of small practices are more likely to take their medication than those who attend a bigger practice. Levels of satisfaction are also higher with smaller practices.

Those who do not follow the advice they are given fall into three main categories – those who feel omnipotent and dread needing help from anyone else, immature individuals who will not take the responsibility of helping themselves and those who are content to take risks.

The parallels with our own sector are obvious and the fact that one-to-one advice from a trusted professional makes all the difference is a fact that many in the regulatory arena should bear in mind.

Now, I am not suggesting that we are as well qualified as the medical profession but our impact can be just as profound. Perhaps we should all be trying to improve our counselling abilities if we are to be able to make advice a valued product and not just a route to transactions.

The public trust the medical profession and expect them to be qualified and tested to a high level. If we seek the same position in society, then we too need to ensure that raising and testing our standards is what we are about and not what we would like to avoid at all costs.

This week&#39s news that one high-profile IFA firm is to take on work placements who, if competent, will be “fast-tracked to the position of IFA within a year”, is highly disappointing as it fails to recognise that we have moved on and the recruitment of the future adviser is not something that can be “fast-tracked”.

It needs to be a professional apprenticeship if we are to obtain the recognition that will allow professional advisers to prosper and develop. The hard fact is that there is no easy option in building a profession and we need to invest in our future for it to work. If we are the IFA who wishes to sell on their firm at retirement, we need to ensure that there are those capable and able to purchase when the time comes.

Investing in training the advisers of the future is the prescription that we should all be taking willingly.

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