It is only a few years since the Life Insurance Association and the Society of Financial Advisers merged to create the Personal Finance Society.
A bit like Brexit, regardless of whether or not you supported the merger initially, once it was agreed virtually everyone wanted it to be a success.
Encouragingly, an early win was when the designation chartered financial planner was approved by the Privy Council, putting our profession firmly on the road to parity with the law and accountancy professions.
Some other outcomes however were much less welcome, in particular the virtual disappearance of training in the so called soft skills. These were a key part of the LIA’s heritage, which recognised the vital importance of soft skills to the successful delivery of high quality financial advice.
You can have all the qualifications in the world but, if you have not got the basic skills to develop a rapport with your clients, they are very unlikely to follow your advice.
At last, there are some promising signs that the yawning gap in the training and motivation of financial advisers is starting to be addressed. Both the New Model Business Academy and the PFS are making important strides in delivering events that highlight the value of soft skills.
A great example was a recent conference where the PFS and the Million Dollar Round Table hosted an MDRT Day. The CII’s great hall was packed out, mostly with non-MDRT members, to hear top speakers from across the UK, along with former MDRT president, Brian Heckert.
The speakers (I must confess I was one), highlighted the key factors that help financial advisers develop successful long-term client relationships.
The day reinforced the value of advisers’ relationships with clients and demonstrated that rather than being replaced by robo-advice, advisers can harness technology to enhance their services, save time and serve more clients for the mutual benefit of all concerned.
Congratulations to PFS head, Keith Richards, and Gary Metcalf, UK MDRT chairman, on delivering such an exciting and enjoyable day.
I hope that we will now see a resurgence of training on soft skills, so that good quality financial planning continues to help clients have the money they need most, when they need it most.
Ken Davy is chairman of SimplyBiz Group