In June 2020 I published a book “Being a Financial Adviser” which is available from me direct or from Amazon:
The book is primarily aimed at financial advisers – aspiring, those in training and experienced IFAs but it may also be of interest to company representatives, journalists and regulators. For example I write on my experience of dealing with product providers and with a review of regulation. Hot potato issues are tackled head on and a touch of humour thrown in. What follows below is a summary:
If you are an experienced financial adviser, an aspiring IFA, an adviser in training, a financial journalist, a regulator or part of a sales team for a life company or investment house this book may be for you. Based on my 29 years as a UK financial adviser, 27 as an IFA I have distilled my knowledge and convictions into a spicy, contrarian and controversial book. You should find it thought provoking and practical.
I start by describing what makes a good financial adviser. I have identified 15 attributes including being client focussed, ethical, having good communication and maths skills (there is a test) and being a terrible salesman. I then review the types of financial adviser including independent, restricted, a registered individual, an appointed representative or directly authorised. You may be happier in a different role whilst some restricted advisers may realise investment trusts or EISs are not that scary.
I tackle industry hot potatoes. Whilst I come down squarely in favour of independent versus restricted, timed charges versus percentage fees and bespoke versus centralised investment propositions I am not blind to counter arguments and explain the pros and cons of each. You may be challenged. You may not agree but my thoughts should make you think and strengthen your own convictions. However you charge for financial advice you must be able to demonstrate your fees are fair and the value you add exceeds the cost of advice.
Next I review the history of regulation in the financial services industry over the last 30 years, not a dry exercise, but I identify what has been good, quite a lot, and what frankly has been terrible and has failed to benefit customers. Over-regulation has driven advisers out of the industry and made access to affordable advice much more difficult . Well-meaning but with no skin in the game the regulators have constantly tinkered and meddled to justify their own existence and fat pay packets. They have not understood the importance of good outcomes and that for most people less is more. I then describe why I think the FCA’s Treating Customers Fairly is the best regulation ever invented and how advisers with a client focussed attitude can use it to moderate regulatory overload.
Moving on I offer practical tips on record keeping, giving financial advice (it’s a process not an event), marketing, websites and dealing with product providers before three chapters are devoted to principles and practice of investment, protection and pensions advice. The meaning of investment risk is extensively covered as is how to calculate life cover requirements, how to filter the minefield of critical illness policies and help clients at both the accumulation and decumulation stage. I throw in the odd hand grenade for example that most cash flow planning is not worth the paper it is written on and fixed term annuities are pretty useless. You’ll also discover a little known institution, “The Ministry for the Blindingly Obvious,” learn why if you want to know what water is the fish is the last person you should ask and discover that KIDs make good paper airplanes.
I hope the book will leave advisers stimulated, motivated and refreshed. Unburdened even. You should be more thought through and a better financial adviser. For investment focussed IFAs you should be better equipped to build portfolios and chose funds. For journalists, regulators and company reps hopefully you’ll better understand what advisers have to go through. Finally for people looking for a good quality IFA the book should help you in knowing what to look for.