Personal Finance Society  

Advisers are 'major unrecognised source of guidance'

Advisers are 'major unrecognised source of guidance'

The Personal Finance Society has estimated its members give more than one million hours of free financial guidance each year. 

According to chief executive Keith Richards this makes advisers the biggest source of free guidance in the country, to both existing clients, prospective clients whose needs may not ultimately require an adviser and charities. 

Around 24,000 of the professional body's members who provide regulated advice have either committed to its pro-bono programme or provide free financial guidance of their own accord. 

A recent review by the PFS found its members provided 1.15 hours of free guidance per week, equating to 1,269,600 hours a year. 

Keith Richards, chief executive of the PFS, said: "Financial advisers give back to the communities they work in far more than is often recorded or credited to them and are a major, unrecognised source of financial guidance.

"In addition to the Personal Finance Society’s formal pro-bono programmes of MoneyPlan with Citizens Advice, Forces MoneyPlan with armed forces charities and the new financial education and awareness initiative being delivered to schools around the country called My Personal Finance Skills, advisers often give there guidance to individuals whose needs are not complex."

The PFS launched the Forces MoneyPlan pilot with armed forces charity On Course Foundation and has since partnered with several more veteran charities, offering free financial guidance from its member advisers. 

The professional body's MoneyPlan programme partners members with their local Citizens Advice to provide free 45 minute appointments to members of the public, targeting those who would not ordinarily be able to access professional advice. 

Martin Bamford, managing director at Informed Choice Ltd, said: "Where someone enquiries about our services who clearly isn’t going to get value in return for our fees, we will either signpost them to a more suitable service, for example Citizens Advice, or spend time with them to answer their questions.

"Being part of the local community means it’s important for us to help all members of that community, even if ultimately they don’t have sufficient wealth or complex affairs to become paying clients."

Mr Bamford said it was important for the industry to "carefully distinguish" between pro-bono advice and advice given for free as part of the financial adviser "sales funnel".  

He said: "It used to be common practice for IFAs to give away a one-hour ‘free’ consultation, so they could carry out fact finding and then sell products to fill any gaps.

"This is a less common approach for financial planners, who tend to be more commercial and place greater value on their time." 

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

What do you think about the issues raised by this story? Email us on fa.letters@ft.com to let us know.