Keith Richards: Advice must work for a common cause

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Oct 03, 2019

Society annual conference is fast approaching, the focus this year being ‘Futureproof – Safeguarding Your Clients and Your Business’.

With all the current regulatory, economic and political uncertainty in the world, the theme is increasingly relevant for individuals and businesses alike. Financial advice professionals have always demonstrated a high level of resilience, and this will prove to be a significant asset during this testing period for both the sector and the public.

The political storm is still yet to show any signs of calming down, but this does not mean we, as a profession, are powerless to act. On the contrary, it is during these times of uncertainty that the value of expert professional advice will be felt most by our clients.

By the very nature of the role of a financial adviser, much gravitas can be accredited to personal professional relationships and client trust. The UK’s financial services have been world-leading for a long time, due in no small part to our technical knowledge, focus on client service, and ethical practices. It is therefore vital that we navigate this period of uncertainty in a way that avoids damaging our innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. As such, it is important to remain both mindful and optimistic in order to deliver the most effective outcomes.

While a lot of movement seems to be happening above our heads, we should remember that the more we take responsibility for creating change, the less that change feels like a threat.

One great example of this can be seen in how well the profession has responded to the Pension Transfer Gold Standard, which was launched earlier this year.

Legitimate concerns followed the British Steel saga and there was a hardening professional indemnity insurance and regulatory environment. In response, more than 1,000 advice firms pledged their commitment to adopting the code, which aligns to a consumer guide.

PI insurers were involved in the creation of the gold standard and some now require its adoption to comply with their underwriting requirements. The core purpose, however, was to help consumers better understand their options, and be better positioned to know what to expect from professional advice.

Moments where we can come together face to face, as a profession, to debate these challenges are incredibly valuable.

At its basic level, advice has the power to change lives. By working together for a common cause, we will protect the future of our profession and continue to change people’s lives for the better.

Keith Richards is chief executive of the Personal Finance Society

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