Events of the last few years have contrived to create fantastic opportunities for advisers.
The RDR resulted in many leaving the industry and so reducing the number of advisers. Yet it also introduced a raft of new standards, establishing the foundation for migrating advice into a profession.
At the same time, more and more people need advice as larger numbers reach retirement and individual wealth is higher than ever before. Add into the mix the introduction of pension freedoms and our market has exploded.
But not everyone who needs advice seeks it. The public has a deep mistrust of financial products and with them, advisers. Consumers are bamboozled by the cacophony of terminology from financial services, and this is also true of the many different types of advice they are confronted with: independent, restricted, regulated, authorised and so on. Unsurprisingly, they can’t see the wood for the trees.
Sadly this leads many into the hands of the unregulated fraudsters, the cold calls and the flashy brochures. Consumers can be faced with complete conmen who will say anything to get their sale. These people are the enemy. These are the people we should all be working against.
We are a profession predominantly made up of small businesses. As such, it is imperative that we band together and support one another in delivering a cohesive message to the public about the benefits of regulated advice. Yet time and again I am dismayed to see my contemporaries taking pot-shots at one another instead, seemingly oblivious to the detriment these negative messages cause.
One particular company seems to incur a lot of this wrath. While you may not agree with their model, they have tens of thousands of happy customers and their very size ensures they are subject to regulatory scrutiny. I would also guess the majority of their clients are likely to be much better off as a result of their advice than they would have been without any advice at all. Attacking them not only looks cheap and desperate, it is effectively an own goal as it drags down our whole profession.
In the public's eyes, advisers are one and the same. Attacking a firm in this way is thus an attack on our profession and an attack on ourselves. If your issue is with restriction, charges or fancy paper, then concentrate your energies’ into your own business.
There is plenty of business to go around for everyone. Much better that people are advised by a restricted advice firm than muddle through on their own or fall victim to fraudsters.
We need to stop this infighting and divert our energy into promoting advice generally. By spreading the positive message of the good work we are all doing, and working together to build the public's trust, this will encourage more people to seek advice and thus further grow our market.