Opinion  

What annoyed me about Radio 4’s Money Box

Ken Davy

Ken Davy

I was heartened to see that Radio 4’s Money Box programme on 30 September was on ‘How to find a good financial adviser’, and even more so when host Paul Lewis’ introduction mentioned the new pension freedoms and how recent legislative changes had increased the need for many to seek advice.

Unfortunately however, I was then annoyed and frustrated by the first member of the so-called expert panel, the founder of an online comparison site who made the totally unfounded allegation that the “biggest pitfall” facing consumers was paying a financial adviser too much or falling foul of an IFA offering “dishonest or bad” advice. Unfortunately, these initial comments set the tone for his contributions throughout the rest of the programme.

The chartered financial planner on the panel, Fiona Sharp of Almary Green, conveyed a very high level of professionalism, knowledge and experience throughout the programme, but waged a constant battle against the suggestions that financial planning was something designed to be dipped into and out of when facing major life events such as a wedding or imminent retirement. Time and time again she explained that the importance and value of financial advice lay in gaining a full picture of a client’s financial circumstances and goals, something which I believe can only be achieved through building a solid relationship between adviser and client. A major life event – be it a positive such as an addition to the family or house move or a negative such as an illness or redundancy – should not act as the catalyst to seek out financial advice, as the horse may have already bolted. The reason for having a sound financial plan in place is so that you can meet the ups and downs of life with confidence.

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A robo-adviser or comparison site will never be a threat to the professional service on offer from a personal financial adviser; however, it is the first imperative that consumers understand the true potential value of those services.

I have worked in financial services for over four decades, during which time I have met thousands of financial advisers. Almost without exception, and regardless of the regulator in place at the time and their specific rules, the aims of these advisers has been the same; to provide the most appropriate advice to clients, allowing them to plan a healthy long-term financial future for themselves and their families.

Far from allowing unfounded accusations which are quite simply contrary to all the facts and the personal experience of millions of clients, it would be great if Money Box would reiterate to their many listeners the vital importance and value of ongoing financial advice.

Ken Davy is chairman of SimplyBiz Group