OK is the new excellent

Since the turn of the year, it seems, every time I open an adviser forum, I read an article telling me that most advisers aren’t very good. The articles seem to be based on the author’s prejudice (the ones where there isn’t any evidence of what most advisers do) or prejudice based on bad science (“I asked some people at a conference to put their hands up”). Many of the authors have something to sell.

“Telling people they are rubbish” seems to be all the rage as a marketing technique at the moment, particularly amongst those selling consultancy services to financial advisers.

According to the experts, it’s really not good enough to provide good advice to a load of clients who like you, and make a decent living. You’ve got to be on twitter, hardwired to key decision makers, sifting the noise from the information, whilst running an ultra-marathon. Heaven help you if you go to the pub with your mates on a Friday evening, then fall asleep in front of a re-run of Top Gear.

I think these people have completely missed the point. Demand for financial advice and planning seems to me to be higher than it ever has been (though, of course, I have no evidence of this!). The government is making pensions even more complicated than they were, at the same time as threatening employers with fines if they don’t shove (almost) everyone into one (and another fine if you stick someone in who you shouldn’t have). Not content with that, it seems to be compulsory to come up with a new thing nobody had thought about every budget/Autumn statement. Added to that, all those lovely babyboomers are retiring at a time when the economic world seems to have gone a bit Bjork (interestingly experimental, and you never know if the next track will be terrible or amazing). I was still trying to work out what the implications of a negative interest rate might be, when the Greeks did their thing. So, the demand for advice and planning will continue to increase.

At the same time as this, the supply of advice appears to be at an all time low. Have you tried recruiting a financial planner or paraplanner recently?

This excess of demand over supply means a couple of things – you can put your prices up (after all, you are usually competing against “not taking advice”, rather than another advice firm), and being adequate is just fine. “Adequate” means being technically competent (so you do need to do your CPD and generally keep up to date, which isnt easy, but it isnt really that hard either) and doing normal things, like answering phone calls and emails, and listening to your clients.

It’s perfectly fine not to be Superman. OK is the new excellent.