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Scott Gallacher: Time to talk up our profession

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We are now into the second six months of the RDR and so far we have seen mixed reports about whether people are leaving, or joining, the industry.

Earlier this year figures suggested 10 to 25 per cent of advisers had left the industry but at the PFS regional conference earlier this summer we were told adviser numbers had actually increased and recent figures from the FCA said adviser numbers are up by 6 per cent since the start of the year.

We were also reminded at the PFS conference to unite and talk up the profession rather than talking us all down. With this in mind, and with the RDR now firmly in place, I thought this was an opportune time to remind us all why we are hard working professional advisers rather than the insurance company salesmen that the mainstream media often portray us as.

I was lucky enough to join our industry – or should that now be profession   in 1997 when I became Rowley Turton’s first employee, a trainee independent financial adviser.

When I went for my initial interview at Rowley Turton I had never heard of an IFA but at that interview the managing director Alan Turton explained what an IFA did and how they helped people. I knew instantly that this was what I wanted to do.

For me it’s about the good that financial planners do. Dan Sullivan, in his book “The Good That Financial Advisors Do” sums it up best for me, with his statement that: “Being a financial advisor to upwardly mobile individuals in the 21st century is one of the most important roles in our society.”

IFAs don’t simply arrange mortgages  – we help people buy their own homes. We do not only advise on pensions and investments – we help people fund their own retirement or pay school fees. With the closure of final salary pensions and pressure on the state pension this is even more important.

We do not just sell life assurance, critical illness cover or income protection – we help people protect themselves and their families if the worst happens and ensure that they are not left to the mercy of the welfare state.

We do not simply help with tax planning – we help people keep more of their money and pass that money to children or grandchildren.

By helping clients be self sufficient, we do not just help them but also we reduce the tax burden on others by helping clients avoid relying on an under pressure state system – whether it be benefits, healthcare or schools. Generally our clients are more likely than not paying for these things themselves.

It is also important to me that financial planning is not about selling someone a financial product and moving on to the next prospect. It’s about building a long-term relationship based on mutual trust where you are caring for your client and their family for many years.

With all of the IFA bashing that we see in the mainstream media, it is easy to become disillusioned and I feel that reminding ourselves of the good we do is important from time to time.

In the current age of the internet, a vast amount of information is only a click away. Consequently with all the information at your fingertips the death of the financial adviser or financial planner is often raised.

Personally, I think the future has never looked brighter since clients are facing information overload and they need our knowledge, wisdom and sound judgement to deal with it.

Scott Gallacher is director at Rowley Turton

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Comments

There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Test Comment – Please ignore

  2. I agree! Good to see something positive written for a change.

  3. “Being a financial advisor to upwardly mobile individuals in the 21st century is one of the most important roles in our society.”

    Despite reading the rest of the article that point stuck in my mind above all others. Using words like “upwardly mobile” is why IFA’s and Financial Services alienate people. Its discrimination to some and to others an indication that IFA’s only want to deal with people with money as they are interested only in the commercial side of a relationship.

  4. Scott
    I think you are being a little cavalier with terminology. Please remember that the PFS (and APFA) are by no means exclusively IFA. If you are referring to IFAs then naturally I agree with you!

    @ Matt Dorrington

    Are you an adviser or a social worker? “IFA’s only want to deal with people with money as they are interested only in the commercial side of a relationship”.Of course we deal with people with money – that’s what the F in IFA stands for – Financial. What sort of work can you do with those without money? Of course we are interested in the commercial aspect. We work to earn money. As far as I’m aware none of us are registered charities. How long would you last in a job if you didn’t bring revenue to the firm?

  5. Well said Harry, you beat me to the comment!

    Of course IFA’s are interested in the commercial side of the business – that’s what business is! When was the last time anyone walked into Tesco and said ‘sorry I need some food for my family can you give me some flour and yeast so i can make some bread please, no I’m not going to pay for it’ – Equally IFA’s will give their customers the ‘flour’ and ‘yeast’ of financial services from which they can make some ‘bread’ (for which they will be charged) but if they want the result but dont want to do the work they have to pay more!

    Profit is not a dirty word and for those of you who think it is, fine go and see your bank who give you ‘free financial advice’ – oh sorry they dont anymore and guess what they NEVER DID!!!

  6. Harry / Anonyman – I am neither adviser nor social worker.
    I totally agree that business revenue is vital and I know far dirtier words than profit.
    My point was with the way the article was phrased not what message it was looking to put across.
    Each to their opinion.
    Matt

  7. I agree it is about time we had some positive news around. That having been said, I would like to point out (as has been made before) over the FCA & PFS figures. They very carefully suggested the start of the year as their “floor” in terms of numbers. To provide a far more accurate figure they should have used their floor as 30th of Dec 2012. There were a shedload of advisers who were “struck off” as of R-Day for various reasons but who were still in the process of becoming qualified. So to use this artificially low base line figure of Jan 1st is at best somewhat dodgy and was deliberately used as they new there would be advisers coming back on the register who had previously been registered but struck off.
    That having been said I think thatthose of us who have managed to get qualified etc on time and are still here have done a remarkable job and we should all be proud of ourselves.
    We have changed to a fee model (all be it for the majority of us the model is now 3 + .5 or .75 AC insetad of commission).
    Whilst the regulator does not seem happy with this maybe they should be asking themselves why the huge majority of advisers have adopted this way of being paid. Common sense and evidence from providers that the overwhelming majority of cases that have been set up post RDR, have been done so on a facilitated basis. The only logical conclusion one can make from this is that this is how our clients prefer to pay us. Noone in the regulator is going to make a convincing argument that there have been hundreds of thousands of transactions since Jan 1st on this basis withou clients consent and knowledge.
    We need a period of stability to allow us to all recover now from the finacial crisis, more regulatory “reform” and get on with trying to make the most of the remains of teh industry that teh RDR has caused. We can all do this if we carry on being honest with our clients and tell it exactly as it is. Clients we have had for years just laugh at the regulatory changes as it makes no differnce to how we did business before. The smile soon goes from their faces when the higher cost to them becomes clear though.

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