Around three years ago, research suggested that almost 30 per cent of IFAs were looking to retire in the next five years.

    Fast forward to a couple of months ago, and although the research was carried out by a different organisation, the finding was the same – almost 30 per cent of IFAs are looking to retire in the next five years.

    I believe what those numbers are telling us is not that many people who wanted to retire three years ago are actually retiring. So what is it that’s causing us to continue to work despite a desire to retire? What’s stopping us?

    The natural succession model would be that if we are looking to pass on our business to the next generation, that would mean passing it on to those in, say, their mid-forties.

    But what’s actually happening is people are reviewing their succession model and looking to those that bit earlier in their career. This means the older generation of advisers needs to be more open and trusting of people they weren’t necessarily expecting to trust with their business.

    For the younger generation of planners, this means there are certain things you have a responsibility to do if you want to get that older generation to trust you.

    Of course, the owner managers running small businesses, which make up the majority of the profession, also need to be more open to this concept of ‘learning from inexperience’.

    Otherwise, if everybody is trying to retire and sell their business at the same time, either the consolidators will mop up, or business owners won’t be able to retire on the level of income they were hoping for.

    What a tragedy that would be. We are a profession that plan people’s retirements. We pride ourselves in allowing people to retire at the time of their choosing, and yet there’s a huge cohort of our profession who can’t actually retire. I think we need to do something with that.

    There’s some very simple things that we can do to build and engender trust between the different generations, and make sure great ideas are taken forward.

    Credibility 

    There’s a tendency to think it can be quite easy to gain credibility in our profession, namely through taking and passing exams.

    But credibility goes beyond qualifications. It’s about being the best you can be, and being focused on the simple details.

    It’s about being prepared so you can deliver your best in any given situation. It’s not about being perfect, but about putting your best foot forward.

    Reliability 

    Reliability is often the most challenging aspect of building trust. We have busy lives with lots of distractions, and that makes it difficult sometimes to be reliable.

    But we also like to promise things that we then don’t always deliver on, because something else got in the way. We all fall down on reliability sometimes. But where you possibly can, do what you say you’ll do, and do it on time.

    Then I get to what I call ‘the big three’ when it comes to building trust.

    Empathy 

    Going all the way back to the 1920s, it was Dale Carnegie who talked about being genuinely interested in other people.

    Today, the basic application of this is putting your mobile phone away when talking to someone. It’s difficult to empathise when we’re doing another task. But the next natural step is then to focus entirely on that person who you are with.

    If we orientate towards that person rather than thinking about ourselves, then they will trust us. Trust is about behaving in a trustworthy manner, and empathy is where that really starts.

    To be great financial planners you have to be genuinely interested in the people you are working with, and the same goes for your colleagues.

    Logic 

    This is about encouraging the current business leaders of the profession to take on board the great and innovative ideas that younger planners are putting forward.

    If you’re the one suggesting a different way of doing things, make sure the logic behind your idea is absolutely sound. You also have to be able to communicate your idea clearly. Put the key part or point of your idea upfront in any discussion. That way, if nothing else, if you’re interrupted halfway through, you have made your point.

    Authenticity 

    This is the most important step of all when building trust. If you are going to genuinely innovate and drive the profession forward, then you have to be authentic.

    It’s very easy to parrot someone else, or to say what you think you’re expected to say. This is something that both business owners and younger planners need to be aware of. Owners need to give the younger generation the space in order to let people be their authentic selves.

    A word about Twitter here. There’s a very vocal cohort in the financial planning community who are trolling anything that moves that doesn’t actually inform the way we do things. Does that allow people to be authentic? As a community, what we need to do is to counter that.

    Imagine somebody sat on a Friday evening after a glass of wine, on their laptop. They see a tweet, and they jump on it - they are already incensed. But what that person is doing is negatively broadcasting about our profession. And there is a group of people who do that.

    If authenticity is going to be allowed to flourish in our profession, then all we need to do at some point is to tweet and say: “Don’t do that – there’s no need. It’s mean.” Imagine if 10 people tweeted that. What if 100 people tweeted? What if 1,000 did?

    We can then very quickly take back the conversation and project what we believe to be authentic about our profession.

    If we allow people the space to follow the above steps, the profession will take leaps forward. We are custodians of this profession, and all we can do is hope that we leave it in a better state than when we arrived. We all have the opportunity to do that.

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    This article is written from a presentation given by Adam Owen at the NextGen Planners conference.

    The NextGen Planners Training Contract takes planners from zero to being level four and level six qualified, and also offers bridging courses from level four to level six. To find out more, click here  

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