End of the Independent newspaper is a Financial Planner wake-up call

It was sad to hear about the end of the print edition of the Independent, but not a complete shock.

We can hold onto fond memories about the ways of the past. We can’t halt progress as the world around us evolves and new, hopefully better, ways of doing things take hold.

Looking back over the past few years, some of my own consumption habits reflect this pace of change, in all cases driven by technological innovation.

I used to buy paperback books. Since getting a Kindle for my birthday a couple of years ago, that habit has all but ended.

Of the 50 or so books I read each year, perhaps 4 or 5 of them are now printed. The rest are bought immediately on a whim and instantly downloaded to the e-reader which lives next to my bed.

I used to buy CDs. Now I download albums from iTunes and stream them via my MacBook, Apple TV or iPod in the car.

The beautifully crafted CD stand in our living room, made by a friend out of old public footpath posts and signs, no longer contains CDs, instead displaying some flowers and several girly ornaments chosen by my wife.

I used to watch television. Now I stream anything I want to watch through Netflix or Now TV on the Apple TV box sitting under the television.

Our TV set hasn’t been plugged into the aerial which sits on top of our house for the past two or three years. In fact, one of the jobs on my list for this summer is remove that and the neighbouring satellite dish from the house and see what scrap value they have, before the rest of the country catches up with the realisation these relics of entertainment are now redundant.

Looking back even a few years, who could have imagined that using an iPhone app to call an Uber would replace whistling for a black cab?

Would you have expected to stay in someone’s home using Airbnb rather than paying for a hotel room?

Could you have believed that your local Blockbuster would now be a charity shop?

So as we say goodbye to the Independent in its print form, and prepare to wave goodbye to most of the other printed newspapers in short order too, we need to think carefully and quickly about what all of this technological disruption means for Financial Planning.

I remain bullish that our target clients want a meaningful relationship with a real life Financial Planner; someone they can look at in the eyes as they discuss an investment recommendation, who can eat their chocolate biscuits as they share their dreams about the future.

No doubt our roles will be increasingly supported by technology, leaving the Financial Planner to deliver the valuable human interaction bits of advice instead of manually calculating fund switches and tax consequences.

And I’m probably completely wrong.

Sixteen years ago I wrote my University dissertation about business innovation in the connected economy.

Of course I had no idea back about the precise nature of the change we would experience in the world during that relatively short time. I was however informed by something Bill Gates once said about how we often overestimate how much technology will change in one year and underestimate how much it will change in ten years.

It would benefit all of us to invest some quality time in thinking about the future, what could change and how our roles as Financial Planners might look following another decade of technological change.

I can say with some confidence that the answer to all this upcoming change will not be a white labelled ‘roboadviser’.

As exciting as that might feel to advisers who launch these today, they are not the future. They are not even close to being the future.


2 thoughts on “End of the Independent newspaper is a Financial Planner wake-up call

  • Agree absolutely Martin but I guess I am more pessimistic about our industry than you.

    The financial services industry, and it is an industry despite the forlorn attempts to repackage it as other things , is failing completely to recognise or to anticipate change in the nature and demand for financial advice. As change is forced upon us – transparency and remuneration for example – we as a body simply try to repackage the same old in order to retain the status quo. Clients are now determined by the amount of assets which can be churned that they already possess and not for the potential they offer as ongoing clients.

    We gleefully embrace a shrinking marketplace as we struggle to retain the historical relationship of what providers thought they had to pay for product distribution and pour scorn on the majority of the population who see little value in what we do.

    Technology will invade our space in asset management and the current generation moving towards the use of their assets to replace income will be followed by younger people still needing to come to terms with life’s economics.

    What point is a Life Time Cash Flow process to a generation who cannot even begin to envisage anything in their lives having more than a temporary presence.

    We rely on regulation to justify the unaffordable nature of our work when it is the very nature of our work which justifies regulation.

    As you say there are so many things which now form the fabric of our lives which were unimaginable just a few years ago and the changes will continue at a pace.

    Our industry needs to open its collective mind and try to find out what the public think they want in financial advice and what they think it is worth and how to deliver it to them in a profitable way .

    Same old in different packaging is not going to be attractive for much longer.

  • Where will the developments come from in Financial Planning? They will come from the skilled professionals who continue to put their clients interests first, as they’ve always done. Yes, there will be some efficiencies in parts of the process, but ultimately clients with complex needs will want to speak to someone with credibility that they can trust.

    We continue to have an issue that consumers don’t trust the industry and don’t understand regulated advice. I believe we need to encourage consumers to engage positively with financial services in as many ways as possible, and we should welcome all new developments, however limited when compared with a full Financial Planning proposition.


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