'The real competition for future advisers is Amazon'

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'The real competition for future advisers is Amazon'
Tim Mottram is director of Grey Parrot Financial Planning (Carmen Reichman/FT)
ByCarmen Reichman

The next generation of financial advisers will need to be able to combine technology and technical expertise with "extremely well developed personal skills", says financial planner Tim Mottram.

The director of Grey Parrot Financial Planning, a recently launched advice business with an innovative way of training new recruits, says people miss the point when it comes to perceived threats to the industry, such as those posed by robo-advice.

If anything, he says, technology is here to help guard advisers from the real threat, which comes from tech giants the likes of Amazon.

Amazon has already entered wealth management services in India, though it is not offering such services in the UK currently. The online retailer has millions of customers that it knows very well and it is able to offer a near-instant service, which is where Mottram sees its appeal.

"Our competition is next day outcomes," says Mottram. "There's a lot of talk about AI, there's a lot of talk about robo-advice. And frankly, we think people miss the point when it comes to robo.

"The journey from first contact with a prospective client to onboarding them has got longer and longer. AI may well be a way of shortening that journey, and I think the adviser of the future, the younger people, are very well positioned to use robo-advice, to use technology, to shorten that journey.

"Because the reality is that our competition isn't the IFA down the road. Our competition is Amazon."

Grey Parrot Financial Planning was formed in late 2021 by Mottram and a small group of industry veterans who decided they wanted to do "something different". 

'I always used to think gosh, if only I could see somebody interact with their client and see what they did,' says Mottram (Carmen Reichman/FT)

Mottram had spent more than 20 years at a large national beforehand but started to see a different way of doing business.

"Ultimately, what we wanted to be was outcomes based and therefore do financial planning for people," he says. "We have a strong view on our investment proposition, we are evidence based and we've always believed for a long time that it shouldn't cost twice as much in fees to look after twice as much money. So we are fixed fee."

Grey Parrot has since taken on two trainees in a structured traineeship it calls 'academy'.

Mottram says the industry is facing two profound shakeups: the impending retirement of a large number of advisers, plus the rapid development of technology.

But he notes humans will always gravitate towards other humans when it comes to making decisions that matter.

So, while he says young people's first instinct "will always be 'how do we solve this using tech?'", they will still need to bring the qualities the previous generation of advisers had, including "extremely well developed personal skills".

Old world skills are going to be extremely important.