Simplify Consulting regularly reviews and discusses topics with industry experts to gain an insight into their field.
This month we talked to Kevin Forbes, Principal IFA, chairman of PFS and sponsor of the Future of Advice initiative on his views on Exit Strategy planning within IFAs community; how this will, should and can evolve in the future.
Our guest and industry expert for this discussion, Kevin Forbes has over 25 years experience within the Financial Advice profession and has been a chairman of Dorset and Hampshire PFS in the UK for 5 years.
What are the key challenges the Financial Adviser profession faces these days ?
Running a successful business as a financial adviser is not really so much a challenge any more, due to the low supply of advisers and the high demand. However, regulation and external pressures get harder and harder. Some of these changes are undoubtedly for the best, some however damage the profession and seem to be ill-conceived. One consequence of all this is that barriers to entry for new advisers are very high. This has then led to some advisers giving up on their own versions of the ‘Adviser’s Hippocratic Oath’ by simply selling their clients to the highest bidder. I believe the implications down the line for these clients and for the profession to be disastrous. Many of these clients will simply be dropped into a Black Hole where the light of Treating Customers Fairly and Customer Care cannot shine. It also has implications for all of us remaining with regard to regulatory fees, as there will be a smaller and smaller pond to be fished from. Plus, advisers are walking away and leaving behind a lifetime of liability on the advice they gave, with no control over how well it will be implemented after they’ve gone. Reviews and servicing are a big part of the process when you give advice in all but the simplest of areas.
What are the options available for an IFAs to overcome these challenges?
Financial Advisers in the past have been entrepreneurial and great problem solvers, I am not sure if we have all grown old and tired together or if the pioneering spirit has been beaten out of some of us, but we need to return to the good bits of the past. Advisers need to be as driven and focused on finding the right people to be the future of their businesses as they used to be at finding customers for their businesses. In house MBO (Management Buyout) and succession planning isn’t as hard as many make out, it just needs some effort and determination. Deep down I can’t believe that most good advisers would really have gone into business and been a trusted adviser to their clients for years, to simply sell them down the road at the end. The quality advisers I know would struggle to sleep at night if they thought their clients weren’t going to be looked after, the good advisers are also all good people. I think more should be done by professional bodies to assist advisers in leaving the profession healthy. I can’t think any sane person could argue that society and our communities we live in wouldn’t be served better by more quality financial (trusted) advisers. We hear about scams and people being preyed upon every day, if those people had a regulated financial adviser just to run things through, they would be far less likely to get caught out. It would also help the diversification of financial advisers away from being 80% chubby, middle aged white men (me included)!
Are there any considerations to be taken into account when overcoming the challenges, and how hard/ easy it is to implement the changes?
Like many things, a process needs to be built and then followed. Sometimes starting with a blank piece of paper can feel overwhelming, so find some help by speaking to others who have done it and are willing to share. I think the 1980’s and 90’s turf wars between financial advisers are well gone and now the profession has evolved into a much more sharing environment. I think the ability to mitigate risk by controlling the level of ongoing care and attention your clients get is an overwhelming reason on its own to get this right.
What support is available for IFAs?
At the moment, not a lot. In the same way the big vertically integrated firms have all the budgets and make the all the noise in our sector, the big consolidators do in this space. Reeling in firms with big offers, only to chip away at the valuations as the transfer takes place. I would make use of the consultancy firms and fund manager or product provider brokers to find out what is going on and working and ask to team up. We’ve built a more formal version of that in Future of Advice, where information and support is freely available to firms looking to get involved. Help with adverts, job specs, contracts and more. We have also teamed up with Bournemouth University to help find the right candidates. This university linkage is really useful, so we will be expanding with more institutions like this very soon. Hopefully Future of Advice is coming to a town like yours very soon!
What does the next 5-10 years hold for the Financial Advisers profession?
I hope that it looks rosy and that decent numbers of talented young people from different backgrounds flock to financial services as a profession, giving our roles the prestige and place in our communities they deserve. But this won’t happen by luck, it needs advisers to make a conscious effort to make things better. If every adviser could replace him/herself at retirement with two trained professionals as part of their business goals I am sure that not only would they have a long and prosperous retirement themselves, but that the same could be said of the profession we all regard so highly. On the other hand, it could be that we all sleepwalk into a demographic timebomb (like successive governments have with pensions, care homes, health service) and financial advice and planning becomes a cottage industry and that the general public are all left dealing with banks and robots for all their personal finance needs and the rise of the scammers continues exponentially and we all live out our days in some dystopian novel…then the robots at Skynet won’t need to start a war with us, they’ll all just gang up and pinch all our money!
Thank you to Kevin for the discussion and sharing his thoughts and observations on the challenges faced by the Financial Advisers and how he feels they can be addressed and evolve in the future.
Simplify Consulting, along with PFS, Strategic Solutions, FPWM and Bournemouth University supports the process of implementing the Future of Advice initiative. The key aim of the programme is to raise awareness of the Future of Advice as a career and ensure there is enough fresh blood coming into the profession in order to address the theme of succession planning within the Dorset and Hampshire region of the Personal Finance Society (PFS).
For further information on how Simplify Consulting can help your business with the succession planning / exit strategy or how to participate in the Future of Advice initiative please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.simplifyconsulting.co.uk.