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Plan for a new life

Financial advisers have taken plenty of stick over the years. Much of it has been unfair but I have to say that some of it has been warranted and deserved.

Over the years, certain sec- tions of the adviser community have seemingly done their best to discredit what the rest of us take so seriously – giving truly independent financial advice.

While small in numbers, the negative impact these people have had has been phenomenal and means significant sections of the public have little or no trust of financial advisers, seeing them as little more than salesmen on the lookout for the next product to push.

I am sure the bad practices will continue to cast a shadow over our industry for some years to come but I also believe we are on the cusp of considerable and genuine change that will force out most of the worst offenders and allow the IFA community to begin a new and more professional chapter.

The financial crisis is starting to weed out those transactional advisers that earn their living selling products rather than their wisdom and knowledge. I am sure that as the TCF initiative becomes an increasingly important part of life for advisers and the RDR outcomes start to become reality, this process will be accelerated. It is a process that I believe needs to happen and I am sure the IFA sector will be much stronger and more professional for it.

The emergence of the new model adviser community over the last few years is evidence that this is already happening.

How that model evolves from here I am not sure, but as people start to change the way they think about money, evolve it will.

I have been bitten by the life planning bug and, judging by numbers at the first-ever life planning conference in the UK a couple of weeks ago, I don’t think I am the only one.

To a degree, life planning is something I have always done with clients but it was only after being introduced to charismatic American George Kinder of The Kinder Institute and attending one of his two-day courses that I not only saw its true potential but also how well equipped financial planners are to incorporate it into what they offer.

Life planning is all about focusing on clients’ personal needs and aspirations before their financial needs. The thinking is that it is not until you have helped a client understand what they really want out of life that you can ever begin to advise them on their finances.

The whole concept of life planning is about as far away from selling as you can possibly get. It puts the client first at all times and because of this has the power to inject some much needed trust and confidence back into the financial services industry.

Bruce Wilson is managing director of Helm Godfrey

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