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By Garry Hale | Published Oct 09, 2012

Q&A: Garry Hale, Personal Finance Society president

I was proud, privileged and honoured to become PFS president. The PFS is a fairly recent organisation but because it is part of the CII, which is celebrating its centenary, it is steeped in history and tradition. You feel part of the CII family and that brings the privilege and honour home.

It’s early days. I’m only a week or two into it and already I’m doing interviews and having to attend extra events. It needs a lot more focus in how you’re going to work and manage your time.

I have no specific goals for my presidency and that is deliberate. The year ahead is such an important one for our industry. The work I’ll be doing will be around supporting our members through what will be a difficult period.

My role model is probably Brian Steeples, the PFS’s first president. He rang a couple of days ago to congratulate me on getting the role. He doesn’t play a major part in my life in any way, but I admire him as a person, as a business person.

I do this for real and am going through what the majority of our members are going through. I’m the only authorised adviser within my business so have to stay hands-on. The PFS was keen on having a business owner/adviser at this point in time.

It’s not easy to hop into the CII’s office to discuss things. My company is based in Stirling in Scotland. That said, I’m the fourth Scottish president in the organisation’s short history so Brian Steeples, Paul Lothian and Robert Reid have been through the same journey and challenge while running their own firms.

I think I’m the youngest adviser to have taken the role. I’m just in my 30s and have a young family so it takes a lot of energy, but that’s what makes it exciting. I’m not someone who is in their late 50s or 60s who is trying to plan their exit from the industry.

The RDR is the beginning of something new for the profession. And for all those who get there in terms of qualifications and gap-fill and choosing an accredited body. Once they’ve done all that, it is just formality. It’s all the other important stuff that we will be working with: running a successful business and the potentially more complex parts of the new world, dealing with new structures around fees and whether VAT plays a part in all that.

The biggest challenge the RDR will bring for advisers is adapting to the fees remuneration world. There might be a lot of unintended consequences of the RDR but they are all things business owners and advisers are going to have to deal with.

The PFS is a very broad church of membership. It’s great we can attract people from all over the industry into one body but it brings its own challenges. One of the things we are working on is the segmentation of the membership and providing things for each segment.

The potential to have almost 10,000 chartered financial planners all of a sudden is not unrealistic. From 33,000 members we’ve got about 3,000 chartered financial planners now and a further 6,000 working towards chartered status. It would represent a big shift in our profession.

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