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Communication is vital when it comes to client ethics

Communication is vital when it comes to client ethics
Photo: Anna Shvets via Pexels

Good communication is not just an important skill to have, but a vital part of an adviser's dealing with clients, fellow professionals - and even the regulator.

This was one of the key messages to come out of the Association of Christian Financial Advisers' annual conference, which was held at High Leigh. 

One delegate commented: "It's vital to listen to the client but we also have to ask the right questions when it comes to ESG or philanthropy. 

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"For example, asking a client 'what's the purpose of your money?' can help open up a conversation that leads to a range of possible solutions for them.

"Yes we need to gather 'soft facts' about clients but we also should help them establish what the purpose is for their portfolios and how they want to invest."

Delegates heard from speakers on topics ranging from estate planning to ethical behaviour, with the overarching conference theme of 'Giving financial advice as a Christian - does it make a difference?'. 

During one debate, one attendee commented that communication also could be outward towards regulators and policymakers, not just within advisory circles and to clients.

She said: "Rather than criticising the regulator, why are we not engaging with them and having a dialogue?

"Why not join a practitioners' panel to open those lines of communication?"

Philanthropy

Over the course of the two days, advisers discussed issues such as how to incorporate environmental, social and governance questions into the fact-finding process, as well as understanding how to help clients achieve their end-of-life financial aspirations when it comes to philanthropy and gifting.

Jason Van Haaster, relationship manager for philanthropy services provider Stewardship, said: "We deal in the what, how and why - we know people want to give and why they want to give, but they do not always know how to give."

He said advisers had a vital role to play when it comes to helping clients with their "intentional giving".

Also at the conference, Epworth Investment Management, which launched the first managed portfolio service with a Christian focus back in October this year, spoke on how it will apply a range of income, balance and accelerated growth portfolios through a Christian ethical investment lens.

For example, the company has stated that while it does not hold any direct or indirect exposure to Russian securities, in line with the UK government's advice, it also avoids those sectors which traditionally do well out of conflict.

The new provider said: "At the start of the conflict, [we] had a small, indirect exposure to Russian companies through holdings of emerging market-focused vehicles.

"We have eliminated this exposure.