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Sugared water sales on the up

Last week, Christine Dawson, in New Model Adviser, posed the question, ‘Who is pioneering the future of financial planning?’ I’m not entirely sure that you pioneer the future of anything but that aside it was clear the answer is, NOBODY and it reminded me to turn my pen to the future of Financial Planning since the demise of the IFP via its merger with the CISI.

As many will know, I was behind the @saveourifp twitter account and, alongside Damien Rylett, pushed hard against the merger so I don’t come at this from an entirely neutral starting point but when we backed down we agreed to give the merger a chance. So I dutifully kept my powder dry, and got on with my life, not giving it much thought until *BOOM* the Liverpool, Chester and North Wales branch program dropped into my inbox,

• AIM Portfolios for IHT Mitigation • AEOI requirements and reporting • LIVE WEBCAST: Brussels for BrunchLive Webcast • LIVE WEBCAST: The Longer View – March 2016 • Bank of England update: Outlook for the UK economy • Liverpool, Chester & North Wales Annual Dinner 2016

The fact that I have no idea what AEOI is isn’t the point but what on earth is all that nonsense? Where has my IFP gone? Where are sessions for Financial Planners? Where are the practitioners relating their experiences to the next generation, where are the practice management consultants helping you build a business, where are the people taking about behavioural finance and how that impacts on your clients life etc etc. My pre merger fears have been realised.

The UK has enough IFAs selling products to clients for commissions / fees, it has enough stockbrokers / fund managers running money to make money for themselves and their firms, I was even reminded today that it has enough idiotic accountants who think that good tax planning is good tax planning and the personal circumstances and life of the client is not relevant. What it doesn’t have is enough Financial Planners focused on their clients life and their future. How is that branch program going to help create more of them?

Let’s be under no illusions, we don’t need a million Financial Planners in the UK as Financial Planning is not necessary for most people (I’m not saying they couldn’t benefit but it’s not necessary and often not affordable). Most people simply need to spend less, save more and pay down their debt. But, we need a lot more than we have already and we need those who currently purport to be Financial Planners to be sufficiently skilled and confident to deliver proper financial planning to every client, every time and not pick and choose (usually through fear of losing ’the business’) when they do the job properly or not.

On the 4th of March, the 3rd incarnation of Back2Y will take place in Birmingham with some of the leading lights from the Financial Planning world (plus me) spending a day talking about becoming a Financial Planner or a better Financial Planner (you might even be able to still buy a ticket!) No mixed messages, no confusion, proper Financial Planning, nothing else. Where else do we get that? When I sit down to do my CPD next year, assuming there is no improvement in the branch program, where do I get CPD relevant to the job I actually do – other than BACK2Y? Where will I get the chance to chat to other planners and business owners who are facing the unique challenges that we face as a profession working within an industry with a regulator who still doesn’t really understand what we do? Who is going to take the message to the public that all Financial Planners aren’t the same?

Frankly, at present, I fear the future of the Financial Planning profession is bleak. No profession can flourish without a powerful and successful Institute or professional body to promote its service and hold its member to account. Unfortunately Financial Planning doesn’t currently have one. The CISI is in pole position to resolve this and become the voice of financial planning but their effort so far is truly woeful. Hopefully they will respond to articles like this and other criticism coming their way that they are not making good on their pre merger promises but if not, do we simple stick our heads in the sand? Do we think, ‘I’ve had / got a successful career and the next generation isn’t my problem?

Without clear leadership who will be asking the industry ‘do you want to run around flogging life assurance, tax schemes or investments or do you want to come with us and change people’s lives?

@saveourifp is watching.

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