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Clients not to blame for advice gap, the industry is

Clients not to blame for advice gap, the industry is
Ben and Jenna Mulroney

The advice gap needs to be addressed in a different manner, with less blame on individuals for not understanding or seeking advice and more onus on the advice profession to meet clients' requirements.

This is the view of husband and wife advice duo, Ben and Jenna Mulroney who said a fresh approach to financial advice is needed.

Ben and Jenna set up Ben Mulroney Wealth Management in Cheshire under the True Potential group of companies in March 2021, in a bid to empower people to take more control of their finances.

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Ben, a financial adviser with a background in stock broking and fund management, heads up the wealth management side of the business, while Jenna, who has a background in fine art, business strategy and consultancy, leads the business development side.

Speaking to FTAdviser, Ben and Jenna explained how they have used their financial advice business as "a force for good" by offering free financial literacy courses and collaborating with local charities and community projects.

In their view, not enough work like this is being done within the industry and a different model is needed.

Advice gap

When deciding to set up their business, the couple said they talked a lot about the advice gap.

“We both went, ‘this is rubbish’," Ben said. "I don't deny that there is an advice gap, but the terminology bothers me.

“It smacks of an arrogance from within the financial industry, that basically says, ‘if only more people knew how amazing we are, if only more people understood what we do, they'd come running to us’. 

"If there is a gap of people seeking out financial advice, don't blame the customer, maybe look at yourself as an industry and go, ‘What are you not doing? What is it about you that's not meeting their requirements?’,” Ben said.

It was with this perspective that the couple built their offering as an advice firm.

Ben was conscious that high fees and other barriers exist to entry and did not want to become part of the problem.

“We’ve developed a whole strand of our business that delivers simplified advice, completely free of charge,” Ben explained.

“We provide pension consolidation, pension transfers, Isa transfers, combined with guided ‘advice lite’, completely free with no initial charges.”

This stream of the couple’s business came about after a lead generation company they used told them that few advisers wanted to deal with the lower value leads they were finding and potential customers were being left underserved as a result.

Ben now offers an initial phone consultation free of charge and then uses technology from True Potential so the client can continue to benefit from financial advice services on a self-elected basis.

Financial literacy

Last June the couple set up a non-profit financial education initiative for schools to help equip students with the skills needed to effectively manage their finances after they leave school.