Personal Finance Society  

PFS president tackles challenges facing profession


Financial planning is the most important and most authentic profession of the 21st Century, Sharon Sutton, president of the Personal Finance Society, has stated.

She said: "Financial planning is such a young profession. It has only been around since the start of the 1980s and if you think about the head start many authentic professions have on financial planning, we have some catching up to do."

Ms Sutton, who was the Isle of Man's first chartered financial planner, took on the mantle of president of the PFS after Nick Turner finished his 12-month tenure.

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Outlining some of the main challenges facing the profession, Ms Sutton said: "We have the usual ongoing regulatory changes but generally our challenge is that, from a consumer standpoint, they do not know that our job as professional financial planners exists.

"If they know the concept of financial advice exists, they generally do not seek our help, which from a financial capability point of view, is something where people are going to struggle."

Add to this the fact that tax and legal issues, as well as the regulatory framework, keeps changing, is something members of the Personal Finance Society need to keep on top of, Ms Sutton said.

Moreover, the fact the number of financial advisers in the UK is far outstripped by, for example, the number of accountants in the UK, means "It is a challenge for us to meet the demand for financial advice", she added.

Ms Sutton told FTAdviser in a video interview that the Personal Finance Society was committed to supporting members and helping them to demonstrate the value of advice.

She said: "We try to engage with regulators and government in order to represent our members and help them serve their clients."

As an example, she talked of a good practice guide which was launched at the PFS Festival of Financial Planning, held at the start of November, which features stories and case studies of financial planners across the UK.

This was designed to help share good ideas with members and encourage those working within the profession.

Ms Sutton added: "The whole point of this initiative, like with all our guides, is to share good practice with a genuine desire to help members become more successful.

"We know in this climate there are not enough of us and - especially with the likes of Vanguard and robo-advice coming in - there is a lot of pressure on cost models, so we need to help our members be the very best version of themselves."