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Pete Matthew: Being an adviser is no mean feat

Matthew-Pete-2012-700.jpgThis 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.

Pete Matthew’s Money Marketing columns

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 


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There are 9 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Richard Anderson 28th July 2017 at 9:21 am

    fantastic article Pete – all very well said. Whilst many ‘financial advisers’ (note small F and small A) seem just to be product salespeople, its warming to know that there are a goodly number who, like us, take lifetime client care to heart, and yes, the job is far more than just arranging this year’s ISAs. Hope that the regulators understand and appreciate that there are many of us like you.

    You could always move up north – we have steak and kidney puddings (not to mention cups of tea, clogs and ferrets!!)

  2. Richard Silverwood 28th July 2017 at 9:23 am

    This will be framed in my office.

  3. Spot on Pete
    I meet lots of ‘advisers’ who love their Chartered status but have poor people skills
    As for empathy they think it’s the new ‘must have’ Porsche
    I think you’re right – it has to be in a persons DNA
    Integrity- compassion- caring- empathy- being genuine -trustworthy- natural humour
    Good luck with your search!

  4. What an excellent piece, Mr Matthew; thank you for writing it. I, too, need another IFA soon, but where do you find them. You are right about the fact that the “money stuff” is only a small part of what we do. Just a few weeks ago on a Monday morning I took (unusually) four ‘phone calls informing me of a death, a birth, a marriage and a divorce – two joyous matters, two sad, but all needed, to some extent, my input and empathy – you just can’t learn this from text-books and CPD records!

    The big problem is the ever-ageing cohort of IFA’s, the lack of women in the business, the lack of experience of youngsters – who we need to solve our “succession” problems – and just, well, having the time to nurture!

    I’m in Somerset and we have cheese!

    All the best,

  5. Very good article Pete….

    Must be something in the water (Rattler ?) down here ….

    A well written piece that, kind says…… every-one is thinking it but few speak about it, but then it wont sell newspapers or justify ones own position,

  6. Well done and well written, precise and to the point. its nice to see there are fellow kindred spirits in a lonely desolate wasteland…

    Andrew Harvey
    MD, The Financial Advice Centre (SW) Ltd, offices in St Austell, Par, Bodmin, Liskeard and Polruan… Cornwall!

  7. Nice article Pete.

    People skills can be taught but need to be practised and honed every day. Those of us that are lucky enough to have natural people skills are definitely at an advanatge over the ‘technicians’. You can always ‘look up’ or ‘phone a friend’ regarding technical aspects but with people skills, you are on your own

  8. Great piece Pete. In a past life I used to get involved in recruiting advisers, one manager in particular would regularly take on experienced and technically competent advisers because he always reckoned he could teach them the people skills. He never did and as a result they generally lasted less than a year with the business.

    I firmly believe the people skills our business needs you either have or you don’t. They can be enhanced and coached but there has to be something there in your DNA to start with.

    Anyone with half a brain can learn the technical side but the people skills you either have or you don’t and if you don’t go do something else.

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