Sugared water sales on the up

Last week, Christine Dawson, in New Model Adviser, posed the question, ‘Who is pioneering the future of financial planning?’ I’m not entirely sure that you pioneer the future of anything but that aside it was clear the answer is, NOBODY and it reminded me to turn my pen to the future of Financial Planning since the demise of the IFP via its merger with the CISI.

As many will know, I was behind the @saveourifp twitter account and, alongside Damien Rylett, pushed hard against the merger so I don’t come at this from an entirely neutral starting point but when we backed down we agreed to give the merger a chance. So I dutifully kept my powder dry, and got on with my life, not giving it much thought until *BOOM* the Liverpool, Chester and North Wales branch program dropped into my inbox,

• AIM Portfolios for IHT Mitigation
• AEOI requirements and reporting
• LIVE WEBCAST: Brussels for BrunchLive Webcast
• LIVE WEBCAST: The Longer View – March 2016
• Bank of England update: Outlook for the UK economy
• Liverpool, Chester & North Wales Annual Dinner 2016

The fact that I have no idea what AEOI is isn’t the point but what on earth is all that nonsense? Where has my IFP gone? Where are sessions for Financial Planners? Where are the practitioners relating their experiences to the next generation, where are the practice management consultants helping you build a business, where are the people taking about behavioural finance and how that impacts on your clients life etc etc. My pre merger fears have been realised.

The UK has enough IFAs selling products to clients for commissions / fees, it has enough stockbrokers / fund managers running money to make money for themselves and their firms, I was even reminded today that it has enough idiotic accountants who think that good tax planning is good tax planning and the personal circumstances and life of the client is not relevant. What it doesn’t have is enough Financial Planners focused on their clients life and their future. How is that branch program going to help create more of them?

Let’s be under no illusions, we don’t need a million Financial Planners in the UK as Financial Planning is not necessary for most people (I’m not saying they couldn’t benefit but it’s not necessary and often not affordable). Most people simply need to spend less, save more and pay down their debt. But, we need a lot more than we have already and we need those who currently purport to be Financial Planners to be sufficiently skilled and confident to deliver proper financial planning to every client, every time and not pick and choose (usually through fear of losing ’the business’) when they do the job properly or not.

On the 4th of March, the 3rd incarnation of Back2Y will take place in Birmingham with some of the leading lights from the Financial Planning world (plus me) spending a day talking about becoming a Financial Planner or a better Financial Planner (you might even be able to still buy a ticket!) No mixed messages, no confusion, proper Financial Planning, nothing else. Where else do we get that? When I sit down to do my CPD next year, assuming there is no improvement in the branch program, where do I get CPD relevant to the job I actually do – other than BACK2Y? Where will I get the chance to chat to other planners and business owners who are facing the unique challenges that we face as a profession working within an industry with a regulator who still doesn’t really understand what we do? Who is going to take the message to the public that all Financial Planners aren’t the same?

Frankly, at present, I fear the future of the Financial Planning profession is bleak. No profession can flourish without a powerful and successful Institute or professional body to promote its service and hold its member to account. Unfortunately Financial Planning doesn’t currently have one. The CISI is in pole position to resolve this and become the voice of financial planning but their effort so far is truly woeful. Hopefully they will respond to articles like this and other criticism coming their way that they are not making good on their pre merger promises but if not, do we simple stick our heads in the sand? Do we think, ‘I’ve had / got a successful career and the next generation isn’t my problem?

Without clear leadership who will be asking the industry ‘do you want to run around flogging life assurance, tax schemes or investments or do you want to come with us and change people’s lives?

@saveourifp is watching.


4 thoughts on “Sugared water sales on the up

  • Good piece, Steve, I’d been having similar thoughts.

    Last week I posted a tweet asking who at the CISI was leading on IFP matters because I’d like to speak with them. I included the CISI Twitter account in my tweet. I had no response.

    Meanwhile several of the younger financial planners are talking about doing something themselves because they feel no one is there speaking for them.

    The merger was promised as a way to reach more advisers to convert them to the benefits (for client and firm) of proper planning. Early signs are that it is doing the opposite. I hope it’s not too late.

  • I think that people flogging life insurance, savings products, pensions and even endowment policies ( where relevant ) have changed infinitely more peoples lives for the better than have the Financial Planners you refer to in your piece.
    Sometimes when you have failed in a project it is wise to reflect that it may well be that there is in fact no demand for what you are trying to sell or to promote.
    I first met Paul Etheridge in about 1981 and was an eager user of many of his early ideas although in those days the planning was more inclined towards helping us to do our jobs more effectively. I cannot recall the point at which the concept of Financial Planning became used to try and elevate its advocates to a superior status in our industry but in recent times this ephemeral status seeking seems to have been all that Financial Planning has been about.
    The IFP degenerated into a provider funded trade body which was unable to financially plan its own existence so it is little wonder that it withered on the vine and disappeared.
    There may well be a need for different words to describe making provision for living too long or for dying too soon but it would appear that the IFP could not provide them in a manner which was attractive to many.
    Our entire industry is struggling to define a value in its work that the public think is worth paying for and it seems at least to me that Financial Planning as you see it has just the same problems both within the industry and with the public at large.

  • Great article, Steve. A few observations from me.

    I wish you had revealed you and Damien were behind the Save Our IFP campaign from Day 1. If my memory serves me correctly, it came across as an anonymous campaign and by the time you attached your names to it, representations had been made to the IFP Board.

    It’s still early days post-merger. I’m willing to give the CISI more time to deliver on the promises they made during the merger talks and at the AGM in Newport. It is really disappointing down here in Surrey that, as we approach the end of February, there is still no news about a local branch programme. I understand a meeting did take place in Guildford the other week but I didn’t receive an invitation; it was biased towards investment content regardless.

    I have been getting invites to the London branch meetings, which appear to be the shining example of Financial Planning led content which continues at that branch level.

    I guess the big question is, who within the merged organisation (former IFP members/branch chairmen/board members) is driving the Financial Planning agenda for us now? I’m a former IFP branch chairman and appreciate the amount of work that goes into creating and delivering a good branch programme. Right now, I’m not personally in a position to devote time to this endeavour again, and I understand the pressures faced by those volunteers who do.

    And finally to address the comments made by Phil Melville; nonsense, Phil. I see true Financial Planning in action on a daily basis, with my own clients and clients of my business, and it undoubtedly changes lives for the better. We’re not quite so partisan as those who promote Financial Planning on the basis that financial products are evil and/or goo, but what we are doing is definitely ‘true’ Financial Planning – it works and there is rapidly growing demand for it.

  • Martin, Not sure judging the world in your own mirror is a very objective process. Whatever your personal experience you cannot ignore the dismal failure of the IFP to either grow itself, sustain itself or to influence either the industry or the public in any meaningful way.
    By the way if you read what I actually said, it was that the product floggers who Steve was attempting to demean had actually changed more lives for the better than had ,or indeed does, Financial planning and given the numbers involved I am not sure how that can be called nonsense.
    I also never said that financial planning does not work as I have had a lifetime of watching ordinary people make an excellent job of planning their financial lives often just using separate places to keep their money for different future demands.
    Once again this dialogue has become about advisers rather than the public giving a good indicator of why the IFP has failed in so many ways.


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