What’s on your (IFA) mind?



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Have you ever logged onto a social media site and wonder if you’ve accidentally swallowed the blue pill (Matrix ref)?

Yep, I’m talking Facebook.

I never used it that much, with only a grand total of 32 ‘friends’.  I thought it might help keep touch with people from my village back in Oz, then before I knew it, I was inundated with ‘News Feed’ from many who would over-share stuff best kept to themselves.  Daily updates from a woman who caught her out partner whilst on a weekend away, and several in an apparent competition to be declared ‘who is most in love’ with their partner.

Oh, and the political rants.

I came to despise it.  I questioned why I put up with it?  Why was I on some narcissistic-online trip? I was unknowingly allowing myself to be dragged in, even with my tiny ‘friend’ list.

So I just deleted it!

Is Twitter any different though?

I went on originally for a daily water  cooler moment; a quick chat once or twice, then back to work.  I quite enjoy ‘chatting’ with many folk which isn’t directly possible on fb, and have met several of them, complete strangers of course, to date.  Left wing, right wing, atheist, christian, gay, straight or Australian (ref Royale Family): I talk to them all, as I love hearing stories and listening to different opinions.  Just us and a coffee, a good chat over a tweet and then I’m off.  Never for gaining clients; now that would be creepy.

As yet I’ve not met any IFAs and wonder if it is a Twitter thing, or maybe the industry.

I just can’t relate to #winning or ‘I’ve never been so busy’ tweets or fond talk of electronic toys that appear to define success.  We’re in the money business right, so I suppose nice things define and reward our success?  You can afford and deserve, but must we know about it.  I really need to hear you’ve just bought the iphone6, after getting rid of the iphone5 you only scored at its launch last year.  Nothing wrong with the old one, but it now puts you head and shoulders above those who don’t have it yet.  You are consumer gold, and good on you for it.  #legend

I’d rather talk about real life: how you baked something with your kids on the weekend, how only one of you at home is in paid work, how you walk the kids to school, how you grew something in the garden or played a board game with the kids on Saturday rather than play those utterly rubbish things on the ipad.  It’s more interesting to hear how people spend time, which is more limited than money.  It’s brilliant to see when people take the red pill and make drastic changes to find reality and discover the important things.

The irony is, this sort of lifestyle costs money (or does it), yet it’s rarely the subject of a tweet.

Maybe it’s just the industry which upholds glossy weekly mags, seemingly more ‘Hello’ magazine, than trade publication, suggesting stuff and Funds Under Management define IFA success.  Always bigging up the client-consolidators building ever-more profitable national IFAs: the ‘Tesco’ model of financial advice.  ‘Horse-meat’ advice anyone?  I just can’t get enough of the pools, boats, helicopters and ornate furniture adorned by sad, but well-dressed children.  You really are inspirational, but not in that way to me.

No, I’m not anti-aspirational; quite the opposite actually and nice stuff, is well, very nice now and then.  I love nice stuff, but it knows its place in my life.  When everything is special, just any old (new) thing is never enough for long,  as we aim for better and better things we don’t yet have in our lives.  As for hearing you need to reach that £billion  in FUMs before 50: just how much is enough?  I’d actually be more keen to hear ‘why’ you keep going, than the ‘how’ you do it.  Every next year must be better than the last; better car, phone or house.

Maybe I seek something too simple for this industry, yet it’s the thing we need to promote.

We need to encourage people to get real, and if ‘what’s on your mind’, is ‘my life sucks’, you need to take action and maybe we can help.  Oh yeah, and we might do something with pensions too (ie in that order).  Even when one FP guru (who I quite like) talks about lifestyle, it’s defined in terms of boats, cars and holidays.  Why is there a need to impress each other with this stuff, all the time?  It feels so much like it’s leading us the wrong way.  I wonder if it really engages people other than lauding consumerism.

I’ll happily tell you I’m rubbish at many things, and still unable to run a marathon under 4 hours, but I love the freedom and thinking space a good run gives me.  I don’t care that you’ve done 12 in a week.  One is bloody great stuff.  For me, running gives me perspective on life as others rush past me on the track or on the road in their cars.  I really want to know what motivates or makes you proud, other than Apple or Armani.  I’d love to also know what you’ve done for someone else lately; not for work or even with your work mentioned.  Not with your money you donated, but your time.  Now that’s impressive as we’re (mostly) all equals on this one.

The irony is, advocating financial advice around a modest life, would solve more problems in our busy world and maybe open a market we’ve stepped over.  **Cue for business-obsessed folk out there; money to be made here?**  Maybe we might bring about less depression, reduce divorce and help make people happier with less: more sacrifice, and less Spanx.  Perhaps we don’t do promote it, as we’re worried the people with really big pensions won’t think we’re successful enough.

It is particularly ironic that Financial Planning Week finishes on Black Friday.  It’s almost like, ‘OK guys, we’ve had enough of your financial planning surgeries, BORE-ing, we’ll sort it out next year when I put my £10 a week into that auto-enrolment pension.  Let’s spend now’!  Sad but true, as about a £billion (#madeup) gets spent on a single day.  The retailers get people more than we do.  Even the much loved and very well known TV/Finance guru is in there too, with his own TV show encouraging people to spend, er, sorry, save.  He gets it too, but really isn’t much help in making change; always ready with a deal and special code at a friendly website for a cheap crate of plonk for under a tenner.

So, after 1000 words I’m just wondering if I am a loner on this, or are there a few who feel the same way?

I’d love to have a coffee with you and talk ‘red pill’ stuff.  What are we actually going to do to make things real and advocate a simple life, with fewer luxuries and more grit.  Or for sake of saying something that’s real to this post, will you just hide my comment (like the video) and move on to the next #winning, but phoney post?



16 thoughts on “What’s on your (IFA) mind?

  • Dan, this is really wonderful and you are definitely not alone on this. It’s rare for me to say, but I think I agree with everything you say above.

    A quote I read somewhere springs to mind: “We spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like”. I think that’s true and very sad.

    I am an IFA, but I am not motivated by money. Don’t get me wrong, money is important, but it is not my motivator. Some people have told me that this is the wrong attitude to have in general, let alone in this industry, but I disagree.

    I, too, wish things were simpler and that everything wasn’t a competition.

    I could go on for a long time on this subject, but best stop!

    To finish on a positive subject and on one you say you preferred: I made some brownies for my fellow colleagues and fellow learners last week. I could have bought them, but I like baking and people (seem to) like my baking so I made them and they went down a treat. There, you asked to hear about it! 🙂

    • Hi Eva

      Your words are encouraging, and thanks.

      ‘I am an IFA, but I am not motivated by money.’ Great attitude: don’t let them wear you down.

      Simple is a worthy model, but it’s not easy to do, and why we don’t do it. It doesn’t have to be a competition, yet social media is our own reality show, of which ‘we’ are the star.

      Brownies, now that IS a positive note on which to end. There’s nothing like baking something for another person. Now you’ve got me hungry for some.

      I would love coffee some day.

  • Not sure where to begin on this one as you seem so depressed.

    We keep going, at ages 70 and 66 , for many reasons most of which we see as being good and worthwhile.

    Our business has spanned almost fourty years and many external changes but has one constant which is the joy and reward of doing something that people seem to appreciate and which has always given us an income which we don’t think we could ever have achieved elsewhere.

    As you might expect we have grown both in years and also stature with our clients and now share many of the same life issues with them – children, grandchildren, children’s partners, tax and inevitably at some point mortality.

    When we began there was no such concept as HNW or investable assets and our work was simply finding people who would listen to our story. How endlessly rewarding to find that our efforts and those of our clients have borne fruit for both and to have enjoyed their success and their lives whilst building our own along the way.

    Life is always busy and interesting and the constant compromise of too little time is tempered by not having any economic constraints at an age when these are common in society.

    Take the long view and our job can be the best in the world and done well you can look down on the transient passage of regulators as they seek their own salvation.

    Bit Elmer Gantry but still doesn’t express the sheer enjoyment a life advising ordinary people has brought for us.

    • Phil, this is just what is often missing these days – the enjoyment that advising can bring you. It is good to hear that you still find it.

      I mentioned in one of my other comments that when I applied for an IFA role, I didn’t really know what I was applying for; I really did just want to make sure that my degree wouldn’t go to waste.

      I also had a hope at the time and that was to be able to help people. That sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I looked at jobs in social work, counselling etc., but ended up being an IFA, sort of accidentally.

      I’m sure that some people still have a negative perception of our industry, but all good IFAs absolutely can and do help ordinary people, which is very rewarding.

    • Thanks for your concern Phil.

      No depression on this IFA’s mind; fortunately.

      Certainly not when I took a 15 min walk into town with my wife for coffee this morning (I didn’t drive), met a retired friend and on the fly planned an evening of carols at his suggestion (he’s in it) for my MIL this Saturday, then visited the grocer-with-the-calculator mind for more eggs, kale and clemantines (kids demolishing too many of them lately).

      I could have driven today, had my coffee as efficiently as possible, not bumped into the friend, not known about the carols on Saturday and as a result not planned to take the MIL out from her care home, compromising this for a quick trip to the supermarket with my plastic bags, moving quietly back to work.

      It’s interesting that I only advocate a simple life over a consumer one, and yet I must be depressed. That is depressing, and perhaps why people struggle to break from it. I’ve got a great lifestyle, of which I’m fortunate to have, but one that’s taken years of going against what is expected in being busy. We’re so busy, being busy, but no-one actually needs to be that busy.

      I would expect consumerism has caused more depression though, hence the term ‘Retail Therapy’, which is its own (temporary) cure and symptom.

      You have an interesting back story Phil, which I didn’t know. It IS a great occupation which is more fulfilling than a debate on ‘active v passive’ or ‘clean share’ class discussion. Many thanks for taking the time to reply.

      Maybe coffee someday?

  • @Eva,

    Money, money, money !

    I know you are young but you should never dismiss or diminish the importance of money and your labour.

    Most of us have to work so that we can earn money to improve our lives and those of people close to us.

    Money is just a scorecard but it does help when things are not going to plan and it also helps to have some when you are advising others about their money.

    Back to you Dan and Facebook which I use extensively these days. My lifelong passion has been cycle racing and I have been able to hook up with many people who I have known for almost 60 years through Facebook .Indeed there are many hundreds of people within my sport who actively use Facebook for renewing acquaintances or for administering competitive activities.

    I don’t understand Twitter, although my wife says I do it a lot , but I do use Skype and Facetime with my grandchildren which does impress them at least !!!

  • Hi Dan,

    I really enjoyed reading this and whilst I’m guilty of some social media ‘showing off’ as well as being a bit of a gadget geek your words about what’s important really resonates…

    A couple of weekends ago Charlotte, my eldest and I spent a day traveling around London taking photo’s of strangely decorated Paddington bears.

    The cost?

    A couple of jumps on the tube, a few soft drinks and a bit of lunch on a go.

    The value?

    Huge! We chatted, we laughed and we just spent some time together.

    However I’ve also got a part of my personality which is driven and ambitious.

    Whilst I’d rather avoid the arbitrary ‘assets under management’ game as a definition of success I want to ensure the time I spend doing stuff is rewarded either in Money, achievement or me really loving what I’m doing (although it’s not always ideally possible stuff that involve at least two of the three are great!)

    Actually whilst I can’t pretend that it’s the only reason(s) I’m in business I’ve got two main motivations…

    One’s called Charlotte. The others called Sophie.

    and it’s not the money.

    It’s about, in my own little way, being a role model to them.

    It’s about hopefully showing them that whatever they want to do they can achieve and expand their horizons (and I’m talking about something far broader than just business here)

    However as is inevitable and with limited time it’s tough to get the balance between being someone my girls (and to a certain extent still my dad strangely!) are proud of (and respect) and spending the time with the people I love to make it worthwhile

    I’m not convinced I ever will….but I’ll just carry on trying!

    Thanks for writing such a thought provoking article.

    • Thanks Chris

      I’ve never used twitter to find a professional, but I have looked people up once I’ve met them.
      ‘What’s he/she really like when I’m not around’? That’s why I do it. LinkedIn might reveal your CV, but Twitter reveals your personality. fb less so, as your friends, and hopefully they are real friends, already know you.

      Having read your tweets and blogs I would expect that of you. You’re immediately approachable and I could start trusting you. Couldn’t care for your opinion on passive v active (if you have one), but I would expect you’d care about my family. That’s all that counts.


      What a nice idea. Your daughters will always remember that experience. That time is so short before you step up to ‘daggy-dad’ status. Role models, especially dads in kids’ lives are hugely important.

      Have you ever done http://www.treasuretrails.co.uk with them? Just a fiver and lots of fun outdoors. Highly recommended, but always include somewhere for coffee.

      • Thanks Dan,

        I’ll be sure to check out treasure trails and thanks for your kind comments on the tweets and blogs.

  • Great stuff. Really enjoyed this and found it challenging in equal measure. I enjoy Twitter but have to admit that I find it wearing when people tweet about their busyness and I particularly despise the #winning hashtag. Money shouldn’t be our motivator. How boring and empty is that … I look forward to your next blog 🙂

    • Oh, thanks David.

      Maybe one day the #modest will start trending.

      One day when I trek out your way to discover my roots, I’ll look you up for a coffee.

  • Hi Dan, good to see you haven’t changed!

    If being an IFA was being about the money I wouldn’t still be here!
    For me its about being there for people, helping them that motivates

    Coffee sounds good!

  • Dan – many thanks for the Treasure Trail link – just visited the website and downloaded a local trail for the Christmas holiday family “walk off the turkey” event! Always a head scratcher to organise.

    Enjoyed your article – I guess for most people, the pull of the “material world” is the elephant in the room for financial capability and security.

    • Thanks Kevin

      You are in for a treat with the kids. Make sure you print out a few copies for them.

  • @Dan,

    Coffee would be good although you might have to hold your breath as I unfortunately had to go work to earn money and accepting that fact I have always done my very best to maximise the financial outcome of my labour.-with no small measure of success either !


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