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That’s enough now, it’s a brand new year

It’s time for advisers to stop complaining and get on with the job

As a financial adviser, I’m quite sure even you’re bored of banging on about the changes in our industry over the last couple of years, the ‘upheaval’, the ‘pressures’; the increased qualification level, changes to the way we are paid (some advisers thought clients weren’t aware they were paying for the service!) and the utter unfairness of it all. Also, most likely, the fact that you’ve always been honest with your clients and you don’t really understand why it’s all been necessary, but is probably due to a charlatan you’re aware of from down the road and the rest of the industry’s bad apples.

That’s enough now. It may ruffle a few feathers to say this, and many advisers will be quite rightly outraged. Advisers have been aware of these changes for years and so, in turn, I’m sure the clients have. Indeed, as long as I’ve been in this industry these updates and improvements have been in the pipeline. To be honest, I’ve not known much different. I’ve never relied on excessive allocations, have never hidden costs or commissions from clients and always aimed for the very top of the qualification ladder anyway, so level 4 was never a target, just a hurdle.

From my experience in the industry, in spite of its reputation, the truth is I’ve not come across many charlatans, not many who will happily rip off clients. Clearly, I’ve heard the scare stories and counselled new clients through issues left behind from previous advisers, but I’m pleased to say these issues remain fairly rare. All I’d like is for us to just crack on with it. Yes, clients now have to pay explicitly for advice, but if you’re good at your job they should see the value in this, and you shouldn’t be ashamed to quote for your work, your specialist knowledge. If at your first meeting a client baulks at the fees quoted then they’re not going to get your service, and you don’t want them as a client.

I’m very against negotiation in all aspects of retail. It annoys me when one person gets a better deal than another simply for being cheeky. That isn’t very British. Our TCF rules surely stop this? I have the confidence to set my fee structure and stick to it. I’m happy to let a client walk away if they feel my fees are too high. Fortunately this is very rare as I leave a stupid length of time for client meetings so that I never have to rudely wrap it up. That way, I find clients not only value the time you take to fully understand their needs and fully educate them on their finances, but we’re hopefully heading back toward a time where a financial adviser is a trusted keystone to a family or business, and that a long-term relationship is secured. So maybe, just maybe, things have changed for the better…

By Clare Bruce APFS, Chartered Financial Planner for Guardian Wealth Management – UK

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