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Michelle Hoskin: Time to take back control of our profession

Does your business have what it takes to ride the global wave of change?

Has the world finally gone nuts? Has financial services finally reached the point where we cannot take any more?

In the 20 years since I first came into this magical business, so much has changed. The pressures are demanding. Challenges keep coming and there is nothing we can do to stop them.
But one thing has remained: an adviser’s overriding desire to do the right thing by the client.

The past few years have seen companies around the world implement changes of their own; changes that have resulted in greater success and a totally different approach to running a financial services business.

That said, they have not come easily, or without price or consequence.

Obsession

As we all know, it was back in 2009 when things started to really change. The regulators were awoken, commencing reviews, audits and sector surveys, with new policies introduced to raise professional standards.

Qualifications, designations and industry achievements became an obsession.

Paul Armson: How standard financial planning can fail clients

Administration became overwhelmingly restrictive, time-consuming and, in so many cases, totally unnecessary. Commissions were cut and even banned in some places.

Consumers became even smarter, more particular, more demanding and more powerful. They became choosier about what they wanted.

People were no longer motivated by money and clients created a deeper reliance on their intimate relationship with their adviser.

This brought huge strain to even the most successful and well-organised business.

Shifting standards

The time has now come for a new style of professional excellence; one not focused around academic qualifications and achievements.

If we want our amazing profession to sustain and thrive, then we must start acting like business owners and true professionals.

Professionalism does not come from technical knowledge and it does not come from a long list of academic designations after
your name.

It comes from putting the highest possible global standards at the heart of everything you do.

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Financial services is one of the most highly regulated and compliance-driven professions on the planet, and we all know that compliance regulates the lowest common denominators.

Policies are set to control the uncontrollable and to restrict those who have no boundaries.

But the sad fact of this is that those struggling for excellence can get caught up in the debilitating net of restrictive governance.

Wake up

Advisers need to wake up and take a long, hard look at their business, their structure and their future.

Because embracing the global wave of change will be the difference between surviving and thriving.

I want to use these columns to share some of the game-changing concepts and solutions I have seen firms are adopting.

I will be looking at the profession’s finest financial planning firms and taking a deep dive into international markets in order to explore the best practices reaping rewards across the globe.

The advice profession is on a journey but the destination is bright. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to finally embrace the role that many of you came into it to do.

You must not let the restrictive demands that beat down on your businesses every day stop you from working to your true potential.

Michelle Hoskin is founder and director of Standards International

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