Jeff Prestridge  

Take charge of planning

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

I am a big believer in financial empowerment. that is, The ability, to make more informed decisions in a crucial area of our lives where financial minefields are aplenty.

I am a big believer in financial empowerment. that is, The ability, to make more informed decisions in a crucial area of our lives where financial minefields are aplenty.

Empowerment not only applies to consumers, and their ability to find everything from the ‘right’ mortgage through to the most appropriate investments that will help see them through retirement. It is also crucial in the financial planning arena.

Over the years, the financial planning world has been transformed by the use of software that enables practitioners to sit down with clients and show them clearly how their finances will map out in the future. Companies such as Prestwood – its mantra is ‘lifestyle financial planning means Prestwood’ – have revolutionised the financial planning process.

It seems almost just yesterday when Paul Etheridge, founder of the Institute of Financial Planning, created the first lifelong cash flow modelling software along with colleague Philip Congrave. It was in fact 33 years ago.

Etheridge is still going strong, and Prestwood continues to transform the businesses of those planners that use it and the financial lives of clients whose finances benefit from it.

I shall never forget the afternoon I spent with Mr Etheridge in his West Midlands office as he gave me a Prestwood tutorial. It was a passionate presentation and I was left spellbound. My own finances have since undergone the ‘Prestwood’ treatment.

Mr Lakey’s exhaustive research into the world of critical illness insurance now enables financial advisers to identify the best protection policies for clients.

Mr Lakey’s creation, CIExpert, is a labour of love (just like Etheridge’s Prestwood) and is based on years of getting under the skin of individual critical illness policies. The result is a unique system that enables advisers to compare insurance plans based on the statistical likelihood of them meeting a claim.

CIExpert is an extraordinary financial resource tool that has yet to get the recognition it fully deserves. No one understands financial protection insurance like Mr Lakey. The financial world is a better place for his insightful work.

Financial empowerment has also spread to the regulator and organisations such as the Financial Ombudsman Service.

In recent weeks, the Financial Conduct Authority has shone a light into the murky world of insurance companies and their propensity to meet claims in the ‘general’ arena. It has done this by publishing claims statistics on various types of policy – home cover through to insurance sold as stand-alone or as an add-on to home or motor cover.

The research highlights which companies are more likely to accept a future claim (some have claim acceptance rates of below 70 per cent). The regulator says its work is designed to encourage insurers to improve the ‘value they offer consumers’.  It is a laudable objective, and the data is empowering because it enables consumers to make more informed choices. Good on the FCA (I never thought I would ever say that).