The modern Financial Planner needs to consider much more than pension rules, market outlooks or the latest tax planning strategies. Financial Planners today are expected, quite rightly, to expand their skills and knowledge beyond the historic realms of a narrow financial services focus.
Last week was a good example of how things are changing. On Friday morning, I found myself checking out of a slightly grotty hotel in Folkestone (it looked nice on the Internet) and checking into Nudgestock. This is a behavioural science conference (or ‘festival’), now in its fifth year, offering a day of insights into human behaviour.
The room was an eclectic mix of academics, government officials and business leaders, all there to hear the latest thinking on this exciting discipline. Throughout the course of the conference we learnt about morality, confidence, play, problem solving, evolution, voter manipulation and happiness.
Understanding human behaviour is becoming a critical part of our roles as Financial Planners, with psychological insights increasingly helping to explain personal finance decision-making. In fact, within minutes of the conference opening, the first speaker used workplace pensions as an illustrative example of the latest applied behavioural science.
At the same time I was sat in the Leas Cliff Hall, another group of Financial Planners were at a different conference in Edinburgh. Pete Matthew, Andrew Hart and Russ Haworth were guests at Content Marketing Academy Live, learning how to use digital content to transform their marketing.
Based on their glowing feedback, I’ll be attending this one next year, as what use are Financial Planning skills if you can’t effectively promote and communicate your services to your target audience?
Behavioural science and digital content marketing aside, there has also been a big rise in Financial Planners seeking to improve their coaching skills. Earlier last year, my team spent an enjoyable day with a group of other Financial Planners we know, at a workshop run by Quiver Management, developed in partnership with financial adviser and business coach Chris Budd.
It’s essential to continue developing our technical skills and knowledge, so we are competent to construct Financial Plans and recommend suitable products. Far too often I see Financial Planners brush aside these basics, arguing either their Paraplanners deal with such things or passive investing requires no such knowledge.
But at the same time, we need to broaden our horizons in order to deliver the most value to clients. When we meet with clients, they want to discuss their lives as much, if not more, than they want to talk about money. Without a broad base of knowledge and skills from outside the world of Financial Planning, we risk having insufficient to offer.
Martin Bamford CFPCM Chartered MCSI FPFS
Chartered Financial Planner & Chartered Wealth Manager
SOLLA Accredited Later Life Adviser
Managing Director, Informed Choice