What does the future hold for the financial advice profession? Here’s one potential version. It’s less of a prediction, more my ‘favoured future’:
Step 1: The NextGen group grows as more and more young advisers see that planning and coaching are the skills that will differentiate them from the existing advice community.
Step 2: The current grab for assets under management (AUM) continues apace. More DB transfers, swelling the AUM of the advice sector. More companies sell out to consolidators.
Step 3: Pressure starts to increase on the sector of advisers who provide little or no ongoing service but continue to rake off their 0.5%. This pressure comes from the regulator, from the children of their clients and from automated advice models. These firms look to sell, often to the consolidators.
Step 4: The gap between the perceived potential sale price of a business and the amount of money actually in the bank at the end of the sale process finally becomes public knowledge. The real value of a client bank ‘owned’ by an individual adviser falls. More firms turn to proper financial planning in order to bolster their proposition and justify their ongoing fees.
Step 5: The financial planning community develops realistic succession planning and career paths, and so attract the best of the NextGen advisers. The growth of proper financial planning becomes more well known as it becomes more widespread, especially among the other professions who become envious of the trusted adviser status of the financial planner community.
Step 6: Those firms left who are still provide no ongoing service or planning wither as the clients die and their children have either not been engaged, or have already appointed a proper financial planning firm.
Step 7: Planning and coaching are the norm. The focus of financial advice is on helping people lead happier lives. Children once again get free milk at school. Politicians work together to find solutions for a better world and no longer shout insults at each other. And a unicorn is spotted prancing gaily in the Cotswolds.
I reckon this process (excluding the unicorn) will take around a decade to play through. Of course, there are other potential futures, where everything is dark and every person in the land has a model portfolio which magically beats its given benchmark on a monthly basis.
If we work on the assumption that my version of the future is preferable (and I appreciate that not everyone will agree with that statement), what do we need to do now to make it come true? I’d suggest the following would be a good start:
Develop meaningful succession planning business models to
provide exits for owners, and
provide something for young advisers to work towards, thereby attracting/retaining talent to the industry
Continue to shine a light on good practice so more firms realise the value of planning and coaching propositions
Greater transparency in the business sale sector, in particular on the real value of IFA businesses
Change the focus from sale of businesses for capital gain to creating a long term sustainable profit
There are other things to be done (every adviser firm to take on one apprentice?) and I’ve got lots of ideas. If you share my chosen vision of the future, what would YOU do to help us get there?