Species: Homo Sapiens
Subspecies: Financial Adviser/Planner
Evolution over the last 20 years has been gradual. Although all advisers attain qualification standards and work within the boundaries of a regulated environment, what differentiates us all is how we interpret the regulation and apply it to our advice, our service and our businesses. There are examples of all the typical traits of evolution, divergent, convergent and parallel evolution.
Charles Darwin famously wrote - “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.”
When I joined the industry in the early 2000s, a transition was happening, independent financial advice practices were rebranding from ‘Life and Pensions’ to ‘Asset Management’ then came ‘Wealth Management’. Now we see the rise of ‘Financial Planning’ businesses – which is a wonderful thing and more client focused than ever.
Financial planning is a move in the right direction, away from a transactional dated model, and there is certainly a shift in the type of planning now required. Once education is complete, there is no longer the traditional working pattern, of Monday – Friday, 9-5, until age 65 then retiring. Covid has finally put the nail in that coffin. Our clients now have the technology to work from home, abroad or continue to work in the office. Location is no longer an issue and has opened up the global jobs market. Diversity is being embraced in more ways than one, and our clients are being empowered to make choices like never before. The new normal is abnormal, disruptive, and exciting.
Our clients’ priorities are changing, so we must change. People are taking career breaks, pivoting in their careers, working six months of the year, selling businesses in their 20s/30s, giving rise to diverse planning requirements all at different ages and stages. The internet has made anything possible, and we are faced with infinite planning challenges and situations as a result.
People now aspire to different things. I believe your early years shape your aspirations. The baby boomers grew up after the war years with very little material possessions, so as they became rich or successful, they aspired to the big house, fancy car and expensive watch.
Those growing up in the late 60s/early 70s aspired to be Neil Armstrong, we see the likes of Jeff Bezos & Elon Musk wanting to venture into space, which is an example of this new mindset. Buzz Lightyear has a lot to answer for. The millennials have grown up hearing ‘to infinity and beyond’, and their aspirations now match. The YOLO generation wants to do things, experience things, travel everywhere the world can offer, and all before serious illness or disease takes hold of their lives.
Whilst the planning community is adapting to this metamorphosis in our clients’ needs and aspirations, I don’t think prospective consumers or professional connections really understand how complex financial planning can be or even what financial planning is?
Financial planning can benefit everyone. No matter the gender, ethnicity, social standing, impairment, disability or even religion. Everyone needs financial planning; this is across all nations as the world has become smaller. This has presented an unprecedented opportunity to us. The market is bigger than ever before, it is no longer just the wealthy that need advice. The advice gap is big but the planning gap is even bigger!
Having said this, not everyone can or is willing to access it. It is something our clients need to fully engage with and embrace, and only then can the magic of that financial plan truly happen.
Part of our job is going to be articulating and communicating the benefits of financial planning. We have more mediums and platforms than ever before to get the message out there. We see a rise in collaboration and community in an effort to hone a best practice approach to the value added to a client from proper planning.
So let’s ensure the species thrives, not just survives.
Author: Nicola Ellis, Wellington Wealth
To encourage a debate around what may lie ahead for financial planning, we've compiled an interactive white paper with Phil Billingham of Perceptive Planning. Part of our research for this paper included a roundtable discussion with planners, professional bodies and planning organisations, which Nicola Ellis took part in. Check it out now.