Why parity of esteem is the holy grail for financial services

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Why parity of esteem is the holy grail for financial services
Financial advice and planning needs parity of esteem with doctors and other professionals, says Robin Melley.

I have just had my left hip replaced, but what has that go to do with parity of esteem?

Having recently undergone surgery, I was reflecting upon the treatment process from the initial diagnosis to the surgeon performing the operation, leading to the final stretch of physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

Not once did I consider who designed and manufactured the prosthetic hip, how much profit each element of the supply chain made or whether my surgeon was suitably qualified.

I trusted that all the parties involved in my care were entirely focused on achieving the right outcome for me, the patient.

It’s time to become a united profession and fulfil our destiny with parity of esteem.

Despite all the bad press that the medical profession has received over the decades, including examples of medical negligence and even horrendous scandal of Dr Harold Shipman murdering his patients, we all still trust the medical profession to deliver consistently good outcomes for patients.

I would like to think that the majority of my clients have a similar level of trust in my professional services, but I am not so sure they trust the profession I represent in the same way the collective medical profession engenders trust.

Of course, each client trusts their own adviser and they place a high value on the advice and service provided.

But ask them for an opinion on the personal finance sector as a whole and they make generalised statements that suggest that we still do not have parity of esteem with the other recognised professions, such as medicine, law and architecture, for example.

What’s the benefit of achieving parity of esteem?

Everyone benefits from the application of high standards of professional conduct. By each member of the profession consistently demonstrating that we recognise our fiduciary obligations to our clients, entirely focused on helping them achieve good outcomes, collectively we enhance the reputation of the whole community of financial planners and advisers.

This builds public trust and by extension, increases the public’s confidence in the profession as a whole and therefore the demand for our advice and ongoing service.

How do we build public trust and confidence?

The actions of individual members of our profession have an impact upon us all.

That was abundantly clear from the South Wales’ steel workers pension debacle, where a tiny minority from with our community did the wrong thing and caused detriment for people, many of whom were in vulnerable circumstances by virtue of their lack of capability.

This caused damage to the reputation of the financial planning and advice profession.

The good news is that it can and does work in reverse.