Financial Planning

Being a financial adviser and planner in 2019

29th October 2018

The Author: David Cooper
Financial strategist, investment adviser and Sales Director for United Advisers

At United Advisers Group we don’t like standing still. The industry is changing rapidly, as are the needs of our clients. In this article we talk about the changing investment landscape, what we’re doing to respond, and the key steps we’re taking to improve the service we deliver.

Changing demographics and the impact on advice

Younger generations often have a different take on investing, moving away from the traditional investment options of bonds and stocks towards peer-to-peer lending, stock options, and crowdfunded property investing.

We believe the earlier you start to invest the better. And while we recognise the importance of less traditional investment methods, our job is to help people make the best use of their investments and make the best choices to enhance their lives; this means that the scope of our advice needs to be much broader and we continuously train our team so that they can meet these new demands.

The whole team strives to work with what the client has, and towards what the client needs, all within the prevailing evolution of the investment landscape.

How we work and what we share

Our communication strategy, for both clients and prospects alike, has evolved. We want to make the world of financial planning and investing as accessible as possible to all generations. To do this we’ve kept the more traditional formats of blogs and newsletters, but we also work to develop bespoke guides and videos to help educate the independent investor.

Additionally, we have transformed the United Advisers client offering to two distinct service streams:

Our Financial Planning Service

This service takes a Holistic Lifestyle Financial Planning approach and is the first step in onboarding new clients; this is all about understanding the client’s financial objectives and lifestyle goals. This highly bespoke service caters to all generations including younger investors seeking guidance and planning rather than specific investment vehicles.

Our Investment Consulting Service

This is all about handling investments and includes the more traditional ‘Financial Advising’ role. Our Investment Consulting service is what we have always offered and will continue to deliver to clients. The main shift is that we onboard new clients through the planning service and are also working with existing clients to ensure their plans fit their current and planned lifestyles.

The critical distinction here is that we will only sell someone a financial product if they need it, and if they don’t need it, we tell them just that.

Commitment to service

Within the organisation, we hold weekly Wealth Management (WM) and Client Relationship Management (CRM) conference calls, and these are our forums for discussing progress, best practices, business practices, processes, and issues, and to air thoughts and ideas.  The other directors and I have an ‘open door’ policy and are always willing and happy to listen to any ideas for positive change, innovation, and improvement.

We also have internal WM and CRM manuals stuffed full of best practices, processes, and procedures.

Additionally, we hold an annual two-day conference with everyone in the company; it’s a chance for us to touch base and socialise with one another, talk about the business, workshop constructive ideas, and meet some of our external service providers and partners… actually, we have one coming up in Palma Mallorca at the beginning of October.

We also ask clients for their feedback on WMs; in fact, each e-mail footer gives client’s access to a survey dedicated to assessing that WMs performance; this is more of a self-assessment and improvement tool than a company vehicle for evaluating performance. But, we believe that empowering our WMs to be responsible for monitoring and improving their performance is a more effective way of encouraging quality practices across the board.

2019 challenges

The challenges as we see them for 2019 are ensuring:

  • Everyone is on the same page with ever-changing legislation.
  • All our Wealth Managers are up to speed with Financial Planning and everything that entails.
  • We don’t sacrifice long-term relationships for quick wins – this is around being firm about taking clients on the whole journey rather than just selling them a product because they tell us ‘they just want a pension’, for instance.

Our biggest challenge though, for us all I feel, is finding ways of casting off the stigma associated with conventional financial advising and gaining client trust with improved service offerings that add value to people’s lives.

Advisor fee transparency

Changes in the way we disclose what we earn, and how we earn it, have also encouraged us to look at what we offer to the client, how we deliver it, and what worth both us and the client puts on the services we provide; this, in turn, has led us to re-evaluate our service offering.  MiFID II has, of course, been one of the main drivers here.

We regard all of these things as positive drivers for change. We are confident that continually reviewing how we work helps us redefine our business and align it with what our clients want, and that can only be a good thing for everyone!