The IFP’s Financial Planning Week consumer awareness campaign is coming up very soon and it is the time of year when our profession works together to get on the front foot and share the benefits of all the expertise that exists within it for the benefit of consumers.
It is a big undertaking and one we have been running for the past five years. The momentum is growing but we need more people to get involved if we are really going to make the difference to people’s lives we would like to.
The campaign runs from 25 November and it is such an exciting time of year, when we pull out all the stops to get out there and shout loudly about what real financial planning is all about and encourage people to take some simple steps themselves to improve their financial “fitness”.
The vast majority of people in the UK are not getting to grips with planning their finances. The consequence of this, as if life isn’t hard enough already, is that many are facing real financial worries in their lives which adds to the stress levels.
These are tough times. Wages have been falling in real terms and rises in the cost of living and energy bills in particular are putting a real strain on family budgets right across the country. The sharp increase in numbers of people taking out payday loans is just one of the symptoms of this, where to make ends meet in the short term people are paying a heavy price.
Financial Planning week goes for the back to basics approach. It aims to highlight the building blocks of a financial plan. Starting with encouraging people to work out their budget, it then progresses to setting and prioritising their goals with timescales and costs all included.
It involves talking about making wills, making sure that families are protected in case of unforeseen events derailing the family finances. It is not rocket science, but it is so important. There i a national PR campaign, lots of IFP member activities and the website www.financialplanningweek.org.uk has useful tips and tools.
Taking this to the next level, to boost demand for the services of professional financial planners, consumers need to be more aware of the value of financial planning. When they benefit from taking some simple steps themselves to plan their finances more effectively and think about what they want and need their money to do for them, it’s a more natural step to seek professional advice as matters get more complex.
That’s what Financial Planning Week is all about. It is not about the IFP or IFP members. It is about all of us as a profession coming together to raise awareness of sound financial planning and share the huge depth of knowledge we all have to help people make better decisions when it comes to their money and their lives. Yes, this involves telling people about the powerful and valuable service that professional financial planners and financial planning firms can deliver too – but there’s nothing wrong with that!
With just a week left, if you and your firm have not yet made plans to support it then please give it a go. Using the campaign to help build your brand and establish your credentials as a financial planner is a great way to show potential clients the inherent value in the service you provide.
The IFP is not prescriptive about how you get involved. Whether it’s highlight examples of the work you’ve done with clients which really has changed their lives for the better, writing articles, top tips, blogs, or even doing podcasts or videos. Please visit www.financialplanning.org.uk for ideas on how you can get involved or email Fpweek@financialplanning.org.uk.
Sue Whitbread is communications director at the Institute of Financial Planning