From GDPR to charges: how IFAs are dealing with 2018's challenges

In this round-up, we look back at the highlights of our Adviser Workshop series, which runs weekly in our magazine and foregrounds top tips from the financial planning profession.

Our Adviser Workshop feature asks top financial planners for their insight into and experience of the most pressing business issues.

From professional indemnity insurance to making sure there is enough water in the office, it is intended to be a helpful nudge towards best practice and a smooth working environment for you and your employees. 

Here are some of the highlights from the feature so far this year. 

Our Adviser Workshop feature asks top financial planners for their insight into and experience of the most pressing business issues.

From professional indemnity insurance to making sure there is enough water in the office, it is intended to be a helpful nudge towards best practice and a smooth working environment for you and your employees. 

Here are some of the highlights from the feature so far this year. 

Topic: how to thank clients for referrals

Advisers:

  • Jillian Thomas, managing director, Future Life Wealth Management
  • Julius Lipner, financial planner, Consilia Wealth Management 

What they said:

Jillian Thomas: 'We do not want to pollute our relationship with clients with any monetary incentives. Personally, I do not want someone recommending me because they are going to get paid for it. I want that to be 100% genuine, no strings attached.' 

Julius Lipner: 'There is nothing inappropriate about us thanking clients for their help. They just want us to grow as a business and help us do so. There is nothing untoward in the way we do this.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to review advice fees

Advisers:

  • Alasdair Walker, director, Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker 
  • Tom Morris, chartered financial planner, Ovation Finance

What they said:

Alasdair Walker: 'Our most recent change, in response to Mifid II, had a minimal effect on client costs and the business, but simplified things. We modelled the change in Excel to see what the client experience would be based on decile average fees.' 

Tom Morris: 'Clients are paying for our expertise and advice. There is no requirement for a product to be moved or implemented. They pay for time and, because we track that, we know how long pieces of work take, which is great for organising our resources.'

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to avoid fee confusion

Advisers:

  • Chris Holmes, director, Almus Wealth
  • Claire Walsh, chartered financial planner, Aspect8

What they said:

Chris Holmes: 'Before we do any work, we calculate the cost of implementation and send out a letter or an email to confirm. It explains what clients are paying for and asks if they wish to proceed.' 

Claire Walsh: 'Advisers generally offer a free initial meeting because it can be very hard to communicate the value we are adding in a brief conversation on the phone. If it seems like that person could be a client, I would rather invite them in for a face-to-face meeting and explain the value they will get.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to spot a closet tracker

Advisers: 

  • Keith Churchouse, director, Chapters Financial
  • James Bailey, investment manager, Property Wealth Management 

What they said: 

Keith Churchouse: 'Technology has made it easier for advisers to interrogate funds. Systems now let you compare the performance of actively managed funds, benchmarks and tracking funds.' 

James Bailey: 'We look for an unconstrained approach. So the manager can impelement the process as they wish, letting their skill take hold. We want most of the performance to come from stock selection. This helps determine whether a manager's returns are from luck or skill.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: How to make your business paperless

Advisers: 

  • Gretchen Betts, managing director, Magenta Financial Planning
  • Jane Hodges, managing director, Money Honey Financial Planning

What they said:

Jane Hodges: 'We constantly look to be more efficient with our time and costs. Many providers are behind when it comes to getting on board with all things digital.' 

Gretchen Betts: 'The Law Society says digital signatures are completely legal and acceptable when dealing with providers.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to change your terms of business

Advisers:

  • Marco Vallone, director, Brighton Financial
  • Gretchen Betts, managing director, Magenta Financial Planning

What they said: 

Marco Vallone: 'Try to view the documents from a client’s perspective. I often ask friends or family members to read them and tell me what they do or do not understand.' 

Gretchen Betts: 'If there are big regulatory changes, like what we have seen this year, we post those out to clients to sign and return.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to plan for an emergency

Advisers:

  • Austyn Smith, managing director, Austyn Smith Associates
  • Vivien Ashworth, associate director, Wealth Matters

What they said: 

Austyn Smith: 'If there is an emergency, we have to be up and running within 48 hours. Using a Google cloud-based system means we can work remotely, in case we cannot get into the office. It is encrypted and has a two-stage authentication process, with trackers in all of our computers that can be wiped remotely.' 

Vivien Ashworth: 'Everyone is given a copy of the plan, which they keep at home. It might have to be used in the case of a fire in our offices, for instance. But thankfully we have not had to use it yet.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to select sustainable funds

Advisers: 

  • Quintin Rayer, head of research and ethical investing, P1 Investment Management
  • Tanya Pein, investment specialist, In2 Planning

What they said:

Quintin Rayer: 'Inexperienced providers may launch ethical funds that fail to deliver expected performance. This can erode interest in the fund, which may lead to a merger with a conventional fund or dropping ethical objectives.' 

Tanya Pein: 'You want a fund house that has been doing it for a while.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to prepare for GDPR

  • James Priday, director, Prydis Wealth
  • Fiona Middlemiss, director of risk and compliance, Alan Steel Asset Management

What they said:

James Priday: 'If you were subject to a GDPR audit, this is what they would look for: clarity of how data flows into, through and out of the business.' 

Fiona Middlemiss: 'Millennials do not really mind you using their data, as long as they are getting something back from it. But baby boomers are more likely to ask what you are doing and why.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to recruit hidden gems

Advisers:

  • Martin Cawley, managing director, Devonshire Wealth Management
  • Darren Lloyd Thomas, managing director, Thomas and Thomas

What they said: 

Martin Cawley: 'It is important to separate out what you can teach a person to do and what you cannot.' 

Darren Lloyd Thomas: 'A person’s hidden qualities will not emerge unless you make the recruitment process as real as possible.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to fulfil the Mifid II client contact requirement

Advisers:

  • Gemma Siddle, director of client services, Eldon Financial
  • Helen Howcroft, managing director, Equanimity IFA

What they said:

Gemma Siddle: 'I support the idea that those who pay for advice should receive a suitability assessment. This rule could cause serious issues for those with lower asset values.' 

Helen Howcroft: 'Some clients do not want to pay for contact with us every year. They see no value in it.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to use cashflow planning tools properly

Advisers:

  • Alasdair Walker, chartered financial planner, Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker
  • Andrew Elson, managing director, Berry & Oak

What they said:

Alasdair Walker: 'One school of thought almost presupposes [cash flow models] present objective fact. But a forecast, by definition, must have some elements of subjectivity.' 

Andrew Elson: 'I do not advocate the use of one specific tool over another. It does not matter which you use, as long as you use it properly.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to use paraplanners effectively

Advisers: 

  • Colin Hayden-Cook, managing director, HFS Milbourne
  • Trudy Jenkins, paraplanner, Niche IFA

What they said: 

Colin Hayden-Cook: 'As a team, the technical analysts all do peer reviews and bounce ideas off each other.' 

Trudy Jenkins: 'Although we each have individual cases, we support one another so no one is ever overwhelmed by their workload.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to develop your people skills

Advisers:

  • Steve Buttercase, principal, Verve Investment Planning
  • Gretchen Betts, managing director, Magenta Financial Planning

What they said:

Steve Buttercase: 'Making a decision when you are optimistic or pessimistic is never good.' 

Gretchen Betts: 'As a society, we are losing that ability to interact face-to-face, to ask questions and engage with people.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to offer guidance

Advisers:

  • Paul Stocks, director, Dobson & Hodge
  • Catherine Morgan, self-employed financial planner and financial coach, The Money Panel.

What they said: 

Paul Stocks: 'Defined benefit [DB] transfers are probably the stickiest subject when it comes to guidance, and you stray nearer to advice than the simpler areas.' 

Catherine Morgan: 'If someone came to me on the Money Panel with a DB transfer case I would not touch it. I could not tell someone not to go ahead with a transfer without giving advice.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to tailor your service to different generation

Advisers:

  • James Roberts, managing partner, Partners Wealth Management
  • Charles Chami, director, Glamis IFA

What they said: 

James Roberts: 'It is a cliché that the younger generation are spending their money on experiences rather than saving.' 

Charles Chami: 'Retirees have more time and flexibility, whereas younger people appreciate if you come to them.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to find your business niche

Advisers:

  • Alfie Mullan, partner, Eelah
  • Tamsin Caine, head of financial planning, Smart Financial

What they said: 

Alfie Mullan: 'We were not tired of servicing already rich or retiring clients. We just thought there was more of a journey to go on with people of a similar demographic in terms of age and location.' 

Tamsin Caine: 'The aim is to be a one-stop shop for information right from the beginning, and get people working with us from an early stage in the divorce process.'

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to make a 10-year business plan

Advisers:

  • Keith Churchouse, director, Chapters Financial
  • David Philips, director, Wealth Design 

What they said:

Keith Churchouse: 'The most important lesson of any 10-year or long-term business plan is sto start with the end in mind.' 

David Philips: 'You should ensure your business relationships are formalised with shareholder or partnership agreements.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to let clients go

Advisers: 

  • Tamsin Caine, head of financial planning, Smart Financial
  • Kusal Ariyawansa, chartered financial planner, Appleton Gerrard

What they said: 

Tamsin Caine: 'I would meet them in person. Otherwise it is like being dumped over the phone or via text.' 

Kusal Ariyawansa: 'Have a written agreement in place that you can refer back to, if challenged by clients.' 

You can read the full article here.

Topic: how to run a business during Summer

Advisers:

  • Mandy Dale, director, Hanbury Wealth
  • Neil Bailey, director, Fortitude Financial Planning

What they said:

Mandy Dale: 'If I were seeing a financial adviser, I would want them to be dressed smartly. Clients have been really accommodating. They are dressing casually too!' 

Neil Bailey: 'Our client meetings are arranged six weeks in advance for a particular month, so we already know who in the team is on holiday.' 

You can read the full article here.

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