Opinion 

Begone, crazy costs

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

Over the years I have got to know quite a number of you IFAs out there in this great country of ours.

Indeed, along the way, I have fallen hopelessly in love with one or two of you (sorry, a story for another day).

On the whole, with the exception of one or two rogues (you know who you are), I find that financial advisers are good people with the gift of the gab. Put you in a room full of strangers and by the time the last cocktail has been consumed you will have given your business card to at least half a dozen people who had not known, but do now, that they are in need of financial planning.

You are well-dressed. Gregarious. Confident. But what I love about you more than anything else – in a society where the internet and the impersonal now dominate – is that you care about your clients with a singular passion. You are people persons. The client is king. Tender loving care – TLC – courses through your veins. If only our regulator espoused even a smidgen of such TLC from its lofty Canary Wharf eyrie.

As I know, clients can become genuine friends, such is the close bond between the two of you.

This connection can be so strong that clients will readily stick to their adviser through thick and thin; through scandals such as Arch Cru or sleepless night-inducing stock market corrections. It should not be any other way. Client and adviser in perfect harmony.

I was reminded of just how strong this bond can be only recently when I had the joy of speaking to a wonderful woman called Angela Healy who for the past seven years has received the benefit of financial planning from Neil Rossiter, a chartered financial planner with Blackdown Financial in Taunton, Somerset. A top financial adviser, no less, according to the latest customer ratings survey issued by VouchedFor.

What I loved about speaking to this inspirational 66-year-old lady was not the fact that she is overjoyed that Neil has sorted out her finances (she is) but that she now views him as a friend, whom she trusts implicitly, and who has given her the confidence to retire and enjoy spending her hard-earned money.

Neil, as all good financial planners do, hands out TLC by the Brean Sands bucketload. A counsellor as well as a planner. A friend as well as a continual dispenser of sound financial advice.

Given that this is the way the financial world should be – client and adviser working in perfect harmony rather than customer and bank salesman acting in disharmony – it perturbs me greatly to learn that many good financial planning firms still remain under remorseless regulatory siege.

In a nutshell, the cost of remaining an adviser is rising by the day as professional indemnity premiums, regulatory fees and the levy from the FSCS all soar to new heights. Other trades would not tolerate it.