Sorry to brag, but... 

Recently, I spent a day with one of our Member Firms who, for the purpose of this exercise, I shall consign to anonymity.  The experience was one of unalloyed pleasure, and there was so much to be positive about, that I thought I would quickly summarise some of the main points here.  It is this kind of IFA firm which gives the lie to the suggestions in the recent FAMR report issued in March by HM Treasury and the FCA, that clients are being priced out of the market by the avaricious behaviours of advisory firms.

Whilst I accept that none of us have achieved a kind of state of perfection in our financial services proposition, and that we're all somewhere along the road to the kind of model that we hold as an ideal, there is so much to take home from this visit, that I offer some of the main points for your consideration:

  • Regular staff + adviser meetings where specific cases and client needs are discussed, so that appropriate actions can be taken;
  • Ongoing administration and adviser collaboration on processes and minimum standards;
  • A deep, abiding concern for the principles that underpin good compliance;
  • A consistent focus on the best outcomes for clients;
  • A preparedness to fight cynicism, a mindset that probably afflicts a majority of advisers;
  • A commitment to making their services accessible and affordable for the widest practical range of clients;
  • A meticulous attention to detail with filing and documentation;
  • The continuous updating of workflow items;
  • A comprehensive review process underpinning the investment advice proposition;
  • The integration of 'best of breed' systems and tools to support the advice process.

There is much to be said in favour of this kind of culture.  Very often, one encounters a rather hierarchical dichotomy between advisers and their supporting administrators, as if the latter were simply drudges to obey the imperious dictats of the former.  This rather more collaborative working model has enormous benefits to it:

  • it removes discontinuities and misunderstandings between adviser and support staff
  • it reinforces the common commitment to shared objectives, related to client outcomes
  • it minimises the kinds of danger arising when the baton is passed on from one category of personnel to another, and the client ends up falling through the cracks
  • considered as a whole, this kind of culture is most likely to result in a trajectory of improvement.


Kevin Moss, 06/05/2016