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What advisers are saying: What do clients really want?

Phil Wickenden Technical Area 200

This week advisers have been mostly saying “I am on annual leave until the w/c 25th” on account of it being half term. The term ‘annual leave’ comes from the British Civil Service, who in turn pinched it from the armed services who used the terms ‘annual leave’, ‘embarkation leave’, and probably many other sorts of leave.

But it’s unnecessary. Not the taking a week off, but the language. I guess “I’m on annual leave” leaves scope for imagining said leave-taker engaged in more meaningful, altruistic activity rather than sat on a beach, cocktail in hand, pasty pins on view to all and sunder.

But as well as being clunky, it’s also inaccurate. Very rarely do people take their ‘annual leave’ entitlement in one go. What you should really say, if you insist on taking this line, is that you are taking a proportion of your annual leave entitlement for the next few days/weeks etc. Given the importance of numbers to our industry there’s a good argument that you should also have to work out exact percentages as a kind of penance for grandiloquence. Just a suggestion.

But it rather underlines that saying what we mean is not something that comes naturally to many of us Brits. Whether it’s confrontation avoidance, fear of reprisal or just plain long-windedness, a tendency to dress up what we’re saying is too often to the detriment of the message.

Nowhere is this more evident than in consumers (mis)understanding of RDR and its effect on them and the advice they get. Even now. Research has revealed only 21 per cent of employees know they will be charged directly to receive financial advice from an IFA. Nearly half (49 per cent) of employees who were told as part of the study what the RDR would mean for them said they expect fewer people will visit a financial adviser from 2013. Respondents aged 41 to 60 were mainly of the view people would only pay for advice if the value was clearly outlined.

There’s the challenge. And it’s a significant one, given that currently still over a third of advisers believe their clients do not fully understand how they will be paying for financial advice now.

Most of the stuff from the regulator is largely full of jargon and confusing to clients and so the responsibility of the adviser to truly educate (rather than just tell and sell) is greater than ever. The foundation is being impeccable with your word: speaking with integrity and saying only what you mean.

Phil Wickenden is managing director of So Here’s The Plan phil@soherestheplan.com

Phil Wickenden Quotes 28Feb

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