Emma Ann Hughes 

Why financial advisers can never be Sherlock Holmes

Emma Ann Hughes

Emma Ann Hughes

The current debate surrounding financial advisers scamming footballers and changes to duty of care rules is scary.

This week Danny Murphy, who played for Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham, said a recent bid to reform the players' union – the Professional Footballers' Association – was down to the fact footballers had fallen foul of financial advisers.

The Match of the Day pundit said the PFA had allowed footballers to fall victim to unscrupulous financial advisers who exploited the fact they were ignorant of financial affairs.

Speaking on TalkSport, Mr Murphy said he knew former footballers struggling with mental health issues and addiction. 

He said: "We were at Premier League clubs, we were not protected by the PFA, not protected by the Premier League, when the [independent financial advisers] were coming into the football clubs and brainwashing us or manipulating us."

Mr Murphy’s comments come at a time when the FCA is looking at whether financial advisers should have a duty of care responsibility towards their clients.

The FCA stated it could require companies to act in the best interests of customers when providing advice.

The FCA has said the legal and medical professions already have similar duties, but it has stressed that any proposed solution must be suitable for the financial services sector.

I fear angry footballers and the regulator want financial advisers to become Sherlock Holmes-like individuals.

Footballers and regulators want financial advisers who are experts of observation, with a medically forensic eye capable of spotting any ailment and who use logical reasoning to deliver an amazing outcome.

I find any move towards financial advisers being expected to assess the intellect, mental and physical capabilities of the people who are sat in front of them deeply concerning.

Who does not know someone who was wrongly diagnosed with something or may have got stellar examination results but struggles with remembering where they put their car keys?

If GPs and examinations cannot always perfectly assess individuals, then how the hell can financial advisers be expected to?

Surely, it is the responsibility of the client to know their own limits?

They should share these limitations with their financial adviser and then you can make sure you adapt your services accordingly.

Because I hate to break it to footballers and the regulator, but Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character – not an achievable goal for a financial adviser to aim to become.

emma.hughes@ft.com

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