Welcome to a new bi-monthly commentary which I am writing to offer a fresh perspective on what I do and the challenges facing financial advisers on a daily basis. As a new member of the team at Nurture, this is an ideal forum to express my thoughts on the financial services profession.
As somebody said to me recently, why do we call it the Financial Services "Industry". It is not an Industry, it is a profession. The first step to accountability and trustworthiness must be to ensure that we aspire to be treated as a profession and value our work.
For many of you, the day to day routine of the financial adviser must be a mystery and the images of endless long lunches, hours on the golf course and a four day week must be at the forefront of your mind. The purpose of my blog is to expose the typical working day and discuss the many facets of my job which make it interesting and ever changing.
One of the many reasons that attracted me to Nurture was the framework in place which allows the firm to train the next generation of financial advisers. The average age of the financial adviser in the UK, is over 50, with more than 21% of financial advisers over the age of 60. I am not disputing that age brings with it experience and knowledge, but it is an industry-wide problem to find the next generation of financial advisers. The ones with fresh ideas, innovative thinking, the ones who harness technology and get us all working more efficiently.
The issue with youth is that it does not mean experience. The naive approach is to think that grey hair brings with it knowledge, and knowledge can only be obtained with experience. Text books and exams are a necessary part of the job, but the day to day client facing discussions help to give the experience necessary to advise clients properly. To understand the areas where advice is required, the areas where advice is not needed, and then subsequently the best ways to address these areas. Listening is a very important part of the job.
One of our trainee advisers is George Spicer, who is 20 years old and has been with Nurture Financial planning for 18 months. His biggest challenge is not with communication, not with products and not with reliability, it is with the acronyms and abbreviations which proliferate our industry.
The terminology is relentless, with new products and new taxation regimes bringing with them a whole new raft of terms to get to grips with.
This brings me to a real problem with our industry. Clarity. Communicating complex subjects in a simple and straightforward manner is a challenge to us all, but one which we must overcome to ensure everybody understands.
Advice doesn't always need to be complex, but it does need to be understood. Only then can we, as advisers, say that our client responsibilities are met fully.
Ian Howell DipFA MIFS