Helena Wardle is gearing up to launch her “financial planning-as-a-service” business ‘Money Means’, which is set to go live this summer.
The chartered financial planner intends to serve a younger audience through a combination of automated and hybrid advice, by allowing clients to switch between the two as and when it suits them.
“The advice gap is left to product providers,” Wardle told FTAdviser. “IFAs aren’t stepping up because they don’t need to. Demand [for advice] is high. It’s easy to get retirees to seek advice. And we have no competition.”
How the industry currently charges clients “didn’t sit right” with Wardle. “We really need a subscription model to attract younger people,” she said.
The reason the majority of robo-advisers have either shut up shop, are still struggling to turn a profit, or have pivoted their business model since launch is that “doing it on a traditional proposition doesn’t work”, according to Wardle.
“No-one is really listening to consumers. Robos are shoehorning people into investments and not preparing them for market changes.
“We blame consumers for not understanding. But we’re forgetting we are a service industry”.
In 2018, Wardle started working on a new advice model. In 2020, she set up a directly authorised firm called Smith and Wardle. This then formed the basis of ‘Money Means’, a subscription-based advice service for younger people set to launch sometime this summer which will operate as a separate business to Wardle’s current advice practice.
Since starting the venture, Chanelle Pattinson has come on board to help deliver advice through the new service as Wardle's co-founder. Her dad is a financial adviser, which inspired her to take a fresher approach to the profession.
Patterson also runs an Instagram account called @financewithchanelle which has more than 2,000 followers. Through this she has managed to find a growing number of her clients.
'We need to create demand'
“It’s like having a personal trainer for money,” Wardle said, explaining how Money Means will work. She also likened it to “financial planning-as-a-service”. She reckons a subscription-based model will make it easier to reach profitability faster.
“There’s a huge amount of shame around money. At my practice [Smith and Wardle] we focus on being approachable and clearly communicating. I want to replicate that [at Money Means]. I want to be a rebel and do things differently.”
One thing Wardle is already doing differently at her current practice is displaying a full fee breakdown on her website. At Lang Cat Live in February, just a couple of hands were raised when the audience was asked: ‘who here displays their fees on their website?’
“There’s no-one with my expertise doing this,” said Wardle when asked what competition she might have. While platforms like Tillit are launching to fill the gap between advice and direct-to-consumer investment platforms they still hinge on guidance. Though some advisers are shifting to subscription-based, advice-only models.