This is a rewrite of this column. I had finished a piece about my capacity issues at Jacksons and the lack of talent available to fill the needs of the business, particularly down here in Cornwall.
But it felt a bit whiny, so I have started again.
Instead, in thinking about the staffing needs of my business, I have come to realise what a truly unique skillset the best advisers have.
Let’s face it: the financial part of our job is relatively straightforward. Though I am both a chartered and certified financial planner, I am by no means a technician. I do not retain details of old pension laws because I do not need to. My clients’ needs are usually well within my skills to deal with effectively, and any that are not, I refer to more learned colleagues.
No, the technical aspect of our job can easily be taught to anyone with a reasonable level of intelligence. But the human aspect, which is by far the most important part, is much more difficult to find. I wonder whether it can be taught or whether it is just part of the best advisers’ DNA.
Experienced advisers will know our job is more to be a coach or counsellor sometimes than it is to be a financial expert. Our clients share with us their deepest hopes and ambitions if we provide an environment where they feel comfortable doing so.
Our privilege is firstly to apply our technical wizardry to their finances so that they stand a chance of achieving their goals, and then to coach them through the many obstacles which threaten to derail their progress along the way.
One of the best services we provide our clients is helping them to stay in their seats when markets are rocky. We know in time their portfolio will come good but not if they sell out at the bottom.
Compassion is key. The best advisers care deeply about their clients and invest in their relationships with them. Many of us will have attended christenings, weddings and funerals of our client families. What an honour that is.
Our relationship with our clients far transcends that of (I dare to venture) the accountant-client, or solicitor-client relationship. We truly are the central professional adviser to our client families. Or we should be, if we are doing the job right.
But are we raising up a generation of young people who will fulfil this unique role in our clients’ lives? If we are, we are not doing it at the scale we need.
In a world which will be dominated by online systems, people will still need support from their advisers, as defined by Zuboff and Maxmin in their superb and prescient book The Support Economy.
Our services will need to expand way beyond life and pensions into true financial life planning and plenty more besides.
Our clients will need advisers who can navigate an increasingly confusing maze of financial choices, while demonstrating an authentic desire to help them achieve their goals over the long term.
Financial expert. Life coach. Investment counsellor. Lover of people. Quite a job description, and one for which we need to be preparing the next generation of advisers.
If this sounds like you and you fancy moving to beautiful Cornwall, call me. We have pasties.
Pete Matthew is managing director of Jacksons Wealth Management