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Phil Wickenden: Making the transition from intent to action

From retirement planning to wealth preservation strategies, there is a clear and present difference between intention and action. This is a common thread running through much of the research we have undertaken recently.

Advisers appreciate the importance of certain (usually more complex) financial solutions; they see the relevance and recognise the market need. Yet something breaks down.

Something prevents the smooth transition of intention to action. And so, more often than not, there is a gap between what happens on an average day at the office and what we would like to see happening.

Indeed, when it comes to pensions, 72 per cent of advisers agree there is a need for more robust retirement income planning processes.

While most will not admit it, we will often choose to avoid those activities that carry a risk of appearing anything less than competent. This is all the more salient given advisers are typically delivering a higher level of service to a smaller group of clients with more sophisticated needs. It raises the stakes.

This group is more important to our business and so there is more risk attached. Where there is more risk, there is a tendency to act to mitigate that risk and operate in a more conservative manner. We prefer to stick to the things we know we are good at. That is just human nature.

But you can’t master what you don’t practise, and evidence suggests that we are not all practising. If sticking to what we know means avoiding what may be in the client’s best interest (even when it is out of our comfort zone), then there is a problem. If we purport to offer holistic financial planning, then any disengagement is, at best, a missed opportunity and, at worst, negligence.

Our habits are powerful. We create deep grooves through our daily routines that make it easier to perform roles and tasks. But these grooves are not always aligned to what we really want to achieve. While they might have served us in the past, they may no longer be in our best interests.

This is often the difference between intent and action. Because to effect lasting change requires not just awareness and action, but the repeated carrying out of that action, even when it is less familiar and when we encounter resistance.

So, what do you need to do to begin to forge the new grooves that will better serve you, your business and your clients?

Phil Wickenden is a consultant

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