Over the past decade our industry has slowly morphed into a profession and we are in a far better place now than we have ever been.
Advisers are better educated than ever, with everyone at a minimum standard of diploma and more people at chartered level or working towards that badge.
We have improved our service to clients moving beyond selling them an Isa or a pension for commission to engaging with clients, understanding what they want to achieve in life and helping them structure their finances to best attain that.
More advisers than ever now engage in lifetime financial planning with clients and use cash flow modelling to help them visualise their financial futures.
Some of this improvement has been driven by regulation but that can only push so far, and much of it has actually come from the advice community itself and a desire to improve and do better for our clients than we did in the past.
But not everyone has moved forward; there are still some stuck in the old ways, some happy to sell anything to earn a fee – some who act outside clients’ best interests and the rules.
Sadly these are the ones who end up in the newspapers, not the thousands of advisers who day-by-day improve their clients’ lives.
Despite all we have done to improve ourselves and what we do, the reputation of financial advisers has barely nudged up in the public perception.
I believe there is a case for good old supply and demand here.
We have, by and large, worked hard to improve what we supply to our clients. What must change next is the public’s demand of what to expect from a financial adviser.
If we can educate people in what they have a right to expect from meeting a financial adviser and what good looks like, then they will be better able to determine the good from the bad.
They will demand higher standards. Then the rogues will be run out of town, and those advisers who have not improved and upped their game will find their clients demanding more or voting with their feet. The public will drive change in our profession, not more regulation.
Darren Cooke is a chartered financial planner at Red Circle Financial Planning