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What’s in a name?

I love to display my ignorance for all to see!

Currently, I am struggling with the huge range of different names advisory firms are giving themselves to describe what they do.

So, I decided to undertake a hugely scientific analysis to help you all – I asked my mates on Facebook!

Facebook is where I generally keep up with old mates, so there are very few industry people on there!  Most are around my age (26 obvs), and so represent current and future clients.  Also, they are a very wide range of ‘demography’ as I think marketing type people call them – different careers, sexes, races and religions.  I presented the question by listing the different names and asking which they would go to and what they would expect from each.

The question was presented as follows:

‘There have been significant changes in regulations and our clients are now moving from an industry to a profession. 

The problem is they are having something of an identity crisis and give themselves loads of different names.  What I want to do is see what the general public make of all these different names.

I would be really grateful if you could let me have your first instinctive response to each of the following, please (try to resist the temptation to be too witty!!) and an outline of what you think you would get from them.  Also, tell me who you who select first if you needed any guidance on your money affairs.’

I was trying to keep it as neutral as possible, to not influence any selections.  The choices in titles were:

  1. Financial Adviser

  2. Financial Planner

  3. Financial Consultant

  4. Financial Planning Consultant

  5. Chartered Financial Planner

  6. Certified Financial Planner

  7. Life Planner

  8. Wealth Manager

  9. Wealth Adviser

  10. Asset Manager

  11. Family Life Office

  12. Private Client Manager

  13. Fiduciary

The results are summarised here for you, showing proportionate values for each term:

People responded well to the idea of qualification like Certified and Chartered and also with some of the comments, people demonstrated they understood the distinction with ‘planning’ being about more than advice.

Nonetheless, people most took to plain vanilla ‘Financial Adviser’, with the rationale that it does just what it says.

Take from this what you like, but always challenge the accepted norms in your business – what we consider to be perfectly reflective of what we do may actually alienate clients.

Does this mean some people are swimming against the tide with funky titles, or do we all need to put a concerted effort into educating the public – which is easier and which gives the greatest value?  I don’t know.

One thought I will leave you with, though, is picture yourself at a dinner party answering the question, ‘what do you do for a living?’ When I was regulated, I used to answer that with ‘a financial consultant’ because it sounded sexier than ‘financial adviser’!  Should you go for something people recognise or that actually sounds sexier?  At the end of the day, imagine what it is like for me being asked the same question – I usually get the reply ‘power-what?’!

If anyone wants to get in touch, I have collated some of the expanded thoughts – oh, and here are some of the less than serious responses I got….

  1. Financial Planning Consultant Sounds like a town planner

  2. Chartered Financial Planner Sounds like a medieval town planner

  3. Certified Financial Planner Sounds like a town planner with issues

  4. Family Life Office Sounds like a family planning clinic

  5. Fiduciary  –  WTF?!

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