View more on these topics

Nick Bamford: The brains behind ‘the plan’

Nick Bamford

Speaking on the adviser panel at the London Personal Finance Society Symposium in November, I was asked a question by Steve Gazzard. “What is it that clients value from their financial planner?” he said.

I replied: “They like the 20 per cent guaranteed returns from the Ucis products we sell to them.”

In my head it sounded funny and there was a spattering of giggles from the audience, so hopefully they realised I was joking.

On a more serious note, though, I agreed with my fellow panelists that what clients really value is “the plan”. This is what they are prepared to pay money for. Whether the plan is a full-blown one covering every possible aspect of their future financial lives or a cut-down executive summary, this is what the client is really after.

Some planners have taken this a few steps further and become life planners or life coaches, linking up the financial planning steps with the more relational aspects of how people feel about money.

I guess it remains true that people do not really want an Isa or a pension plan. What they really want to know is what that Isa or that pension plan can do for them.

How will those products provide them with a stream of income that enables them to retire when they want to, perhaps earlier than they had anticipated? How can they ensure they are never going to run out of money?

A plan helps them answer those questions and shows them why they might need those products. So the real value lies in selling a solution, not a product.

The future is bright for financial planners because the plan is all about human interaction. It is about understanding what is important to the client. It is about questioning, probing and responding to the answers given.

I read a great book recently by Professor Brian Cox, entitled The Human Universe. In it, he describes the construction of the human brain and the numbers are staggering. Eighty-five billion neurons, each capable of connecting up with other neurons 10,000 to 100,000 times. No computer on the planet is as powerful as that. The human brain makes a robo-adviser look like a slide rule.

With this in mind, financial planning at the deep end is pretty much immune from the threats of robo-advice.

It may well become easier for a person to buy that Isa or that pension online but let’s not kid ourselves: how is robo-advice going to engage with real human beings and their emotions?

Every adviser I know can tell you a whole load of stories about the emotions they have had to deal with when in front of their clients. Our people skills are irreplaceable by an IT system.

This is evidenced by one question no computer can properly deal with. It is the client response to the question: how do you feel about that?

Nick Bamford is executive director at Informed Choice


Clients are prepared to pay more for planning, advisers argue

Three top advisers have argued firms should charge more for planning as clients are becoming more willing to pay for these services. At the Personal Finance Society’s National Symposium in London last week, Thornton Chartered Financial Planners, Killik & Co and Informed Choice noted a trend that clients are accepting higher charges for advice, provided […]

Tom Kean: A simple call to end regulatory complexity

If I am being perfectly honest, I find a lot of what we do a bit tiresome and unnecessarily complicated. In fact, I sometimes find myself embarrassed by how complex things sound when I am explaining them. As Einstein once said: If you cannot explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough. I […]


Neil Liversidge: Should the FSCS continue to exist?

I am sorry but I really cannot get animated about who funds the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. The question has moved too far from first principles, being about who gets treated most or least unfairly, rather than one challenging its fundamental unjustness. Many years ago in my other lobbying life working on behalf of motorcyclists, a […]

Inheritance Tax, a tax on the wealthy? Urban myth or fact?

By Kim Jarvis, Technical Manager with Canada Life’s ican Technical Services Team. Inheritance tax has been around in some form since 1796. Estate duty dates back to 1894 and over the years this tax has evolved into the inheritance tax (IHT) we know and love today, which was introduced in 1986 as a replacement for […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. All true – and yet most advisers still cling to the value proposition around ‘choosing the best investment funds’ and ‘getting a good return on your money’ or similar – all of which an algorithm will do far better than any human.
    The challenge is having the soft skills, empathy and clear service model that will ensure clients pay anything remotely close to the current fee models.

Leave a comment


Why register with Money Marketing ?

Providing trusted insight for professional advisers. Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and thought leadership.

News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

Money Marketing Events
Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

Research and insight
Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

Have your say
Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

Register now

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm