We invited Alan Smith, chief executive of Capital Asset Management, to tell us what he likes most about being a financial planner, the most successful change he’s made to his business and what one word sums him up and why. 

    What do you like most about your role? 

    The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people I’m privileged to work with – clients and colleagues. 

    I’m a big believer in the power of human potential and running an independent financial planning business provides me with the opportunity to help people to achieve theirs – and at the same time, supports me in achieving my own – it’s a win/win. 

    What’s been the most successful change you’ve made to your business? 

    When I reflect on the 18 years since we started, there are three things that come to mind:

    • Embracing ‘Financial Life Planning’ to help answer the question “What’s the money for?”. This creates context and enables clients to make smart choices about their family’s financial future 
    • Using a low-cost, evidence-based investment philosophy to help fuel the Financial Life Plan 
    • Creating a long-term collaborative partnership with our clients where we act as coach and ‘critical friend’ to ensure we manage any challenges, and that they stick with their plan over the years. 

    We summarise the unique formula for long-term financial success as plan + portfolio + partner. No portfolio without a plan; no plan without a partner. 

    There’s a fourth one – price. We use a flat-fee subscription model to minimise the inherent conflict of interest and cross subsidy that exists with the more popular ‘percentage of assets’ fee model. 

    What’s the best piece of tech you’ve introduced to your business? 

    Financial forecasting and planning software. As early adopters to cashflow modelling, we’ve been using Prestwood Truth for over 15 years. We are also big fans of Timeline.  

    If you could change one thing about the profession, what would it be? 

    The current way that risk profiling tools are used, and the fact that short-term, perfectly normal market volatility is often confused with risk. 

    This had led to huge numbers of investors allocating their investments to assets that are least likely to provide them with a secure and independent financial future. 

    As Nick Murray says: “Permanent loss in a well-diversified portfolio is a human achievement of which the market itself is incapable.” 

    What would you be doing if you weren’t a financial adviser? 

    I enjoy writing, creating and being entrepreneurial, so I would probably do something that combined them.  

    What one word sums you up and why? 

    Curious. As Albert Einstein was reputed to have said “I have no special talents; I am only passionately curious”.  

    Not that I’m comparing myself with Einstein, but I have always retained a sense of curiosity about the people and the world around me and it’s served me well over the years. 

    Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party? 

    1. Elon Musk – for entrepreneurial insights 
    2. Ricky Gervais – for the laughs 
    3. The Dalai Lama – for spiritual enlightenment 
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