Our local newspaper carried a story this week about a Surrey resident who has been shortlisted for a mission to Mars. It is a one-way trip, naturally. Eight years of training followed by a seven month flight and then spending the rest of your life living in a space equivalent to 50 m2 per person. The Mars One project sounds like a pretty tough sell.
Despite the risks and inevitable hardship associated with such a mission, over 200,000 humans from across planet Earth have applied to take part. Just over 1,000 have made it through to the second round of the application process. As much as I can understand the appeal of being a part of such a historic mission, my fear of enclosed spaces and dislike of freeze dried food effectively rules me out.
Perhaps though we could find a few budding ‘Marstronauts’ from the IFA community? Looking through the list of requirements on the Mars One website, it looks like all five key characteristics of an astronaut can apply equally as well to IFAs.
Budding space explorers need to be resilient, with persistent thought processes and being at their best when things are at their worst.
Evidence of IFAs resilience comes with news of yet another painfully large FSCS levy in 2014. Year on year we are stung with unfair and unreasonable levy invoices. Year on year, we remain. Well, those of us that do not go bust because of huge FSCS levies do. Resilience is an entry level requirement in the current regulatory environment.
Astronauts need to demonstrate adaptability. Show the men in white coats (I’m assuming the Mars One selection committee is a bunch of men in white coats, my apologies if I’m wrong) how you have adapted your business to move from sales and commission to advice and fees over the past couple of years. If that sort of adaptability does not prepare you for when the food growing aeroponics kit fails for the fourth time in a month, nothing will.
Curiosity is another key characteristic required for the mission to Mars. IFAs are a naturally curious bunch. We look for the risks in everything, always working on the assumption that if something is too good to be true, it usually is. Apart from the IFAs who sold arch Cru products, of course. They were probably demonstrating entirely the wrong sort of curiosity.
While we are on the type of curiosity needed to sell esoteric investment schemes, Marstronauts also need the ability to trust.
Becoming a trusted adviser is just about the pinnacle of the IFA profession. We trust our clients to tell us the truth about their financial position and they trust us to deliver suitable advice. Trust is a two-way street; vitally important on a one-way mission to Mars.
Finally, a great deal of creativity and resourcefulness is needed. I cannot think of a more creative and resourceful group of people than IFAs. Using humour as a creative resource is something we rely upon daily, more often with some clients.
I cannot think of a group of professionals better suited to a one-way mission to Mars than IFAs. Assuming Money Marketing is prepared to redirect my subscription to Outpost 3, Arcadia, Planet Mars, I might even be prepared to reconsider my original position.
Martin Bamford is managing director of Informed Choice