Undiluted financial advice

It is concerning that a recent survey indicates that financial advisers feel pressure to offer services outside the realm of financial advice in order to strengthen their appeal to clients.

Over half of the 300 financial advisers surveyed by BrightHR say that they feel they ought to be offering non-financial services. Property, employment law and business software solutions were cited as areas on which they felt they should advise to increase their value to clients.

Worrying also, is that only 26% of the advisers described their overall relationship with clients as ‘strong’.

These results follow on the tail of the FCA’s paper, Access to Financial Services in the UK, which raised important questions as to how financial services can be made as widely available as possible. The debate points towards the need for ‘holistic’ advice and the goal of the financial planner is exactly this – to provide informed, joined-up financial advice to help people meet life goals. Such advice will be bespoke to circumstances and goals and is likely to include pensions, inheritance, investment, tax and long term care. These are all specialist areas in their own right.

Financial Planners are qualified to manage and provide insight into the finances of people who want their money to provide the best possible lifestyle. There is some pressure on us all to provide clients with a one-stop-shop but just how realistic is it to actually do so with so much to do and learn on our own doorstep?

Regulation changes constantly – the Pension Freedoms are only just over a year old – retirees have more options than ever and need handholding; Brexit has created its own chaos by sending investors and global markets into shock – therefore, we must steer them appropriately with respect to investment planning; reports tell us it will be a long time before robo-advisers make profits so all clients still require a full, time-rich service.

It is clear that many advisers want to do more to have the ‘strong’ client-adviser relationship they desire. Surely, this is best achieved by mastering the nuances of our own multi-faceted sector and demonstrating to our clients that we put them first? Diluting what we do best by spreading ourselves thinly cannot be the best way forward.

Property is a sector in its own right and the natural territory of property managers, estate agents, and mortgage brokers. Advice on business software is best provided by software developers who live and breathe technology. Yes, it is good to have commercial partnerships and we may briefly stray into these less familiar territories by necessity, but we do have to remember that we cannot be all things to all men.

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