'Our profession is bickering over the wrong things'

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'Our profession is bickering over the wrong things'
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I have often pondered the sheer amount of time being wasted by the financial planning community by bickering over the wrong things.

I wonder where our profession, and ultimately the financial wellbeing of our clients, could be if we focused on what’s really important – good financial planning practices.

I was party to a debate on LinkedIn recently, and it highlighted this issue to me quite explicitly. A full afternoon was spent deliberating over the ‘restricted vs independent’ debate, and then, of course, the ‘passive vs active’ debate naturally followed.

Products are just the tools in which the house is built. What matters is the house.

There was no debate, luckily, regarding the regulator, but no doubt there will have been in a parallel forum.

I am not for one minute saying these conversations are not important. They are, indeed, major topics. It’s the sheer monopoly over airtime that these topics seem to have that I’m having trouble with.

I’m firmly of the opinion that clients can have extremely good outcomes, irrespective of the investment style or business model that their adviser works within. It’s also important to note that very poor outcomes also happen under all structures.

While we must continue to discuss their merits, we need to start using our public forums for what I believe will improve client outcomes more substantially.

This comes from working together and not fragmentally. We all ultimately do the same thing, and that’s work for the benefit of our clients.

What should we be talking about?

This list is endless but here are just a few thoughts:

  • Who is or isn’t using carry forward effectively?
  • How important are our qualification levels?
  • With the lifetime allowance being abolished, who is contacting those benefited with two weeks left of the tax year, for last minute contributions?
  • Which cash flow modelling tools are we using and why? Do we do this for everyone or at particular stages of the client journey?
  • How often are we communicating with our clients and under which mediums?
  • How are we planning capital gains tax for clients with respect to new legislation changes?
  • How are we navigating care home fees?
  • How are we using alternative investment structures?
  • How are we approaching protection for wealth clients?

I could go on all day.

There is no insight for a prospective client that any planning firm is doing any of these things when they view many of the debates in public forums.

All they see is the same old arguments repeating themselves, which in my view only really account for about 10 per cent of the work we do.

Products are just the tools in which the house is built. What matters is the house. It’s time to move on.