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Life planning is key to the intergenerational advice challenge

John Moret was so impressed by financial planning, he introduced his son to the same advice business. And after a troublesome sale, the family is still a client at the same firm

Life planning is key to the intergenerational advice challenge

I was first introduced to financial planning in the early 1990s while director of sales and marketing at Winterthur Life. We worked closely with the then Institute of Financial Planning on a number of initiatives.

This led me to meet many of the early pioneers and advocates of financial planning in the UK including David Norton, Tony Shepherd and Tony Sellon.

One of the very early events we sponsored was the Lygon trophy. One or two older readers may remember this, certainly if they participated in it. The annual event was staged over a weekend at the Lygon Arms in Broadway, hence the name.

The format was for teams of young financial planners to work together to formulate their plan in response to a case study. The teams worked on their plan on the Saturday, interspersed with some fairly upmarket culinary fare and the odd glass or two, and on the Sunday they had to present their findings to the judges. I made several trips to Broadway to hear the feedback and present the trophy.

Slippery slope

As a result of these visits, I became convinced of the value of financial planning. It was there that I first met Alfred (not his real name to preserve anonymity) and his business partner.

They had a successful medium-sized financial planning business focused on professional clients. When I was looking for my own personal financial planner some years later, Alfred was the obvious choice. For 15 years we enjoyed a relationship, which I found invaluable. And, perhaps as importantly, I felt valued.

Latterly Alfred introduced me to a paraplanner, Lance, and in turn I introduced my son and his wife and family to them.

Then, around the same time I was gliding into semi-retirement I became aware Alfred had similar plans. Indeed he and his partner soon sold up to a big financial institution. That is where my problems started.

A little while later Lance, who had taken over as my financial planner, told me he was leaving. I was allocated another financial planner who in turn informed me after one conversation he too was leaving.

And so within the space of 18 months I was onto my fourth financial planner, someone I had never met. Far from being a valued client, I had become nothing more than a commodity as far as the new owners were concerned.

Putting to one side the inexcusable lack of communication about the effect and implication of these changes, I felt that inevitably the culture of the business had changed. Just as happened in the 1990s when life companies acquired estate agents. And it was not a culture I liked.

When I heard Lance was free and had established his own ‘family wealth’ business I jumped at the chance to rejoin him, and my son and family followed.

Eyes on the prize

Addressing the issues of intergenerational wealth will become increasingly important as baby boomers move into retirement and the pressures on subsequent generations grow. That is not to suggest baby boomers do not have issues too.

I am currently reading a book The 100-Year Life with the subtitle Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. It was written by two academics, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, and I recommend it.

It looks at how future generations will have to structure their lives and finances in completely new ways from past generations, to cope with a world where 50% of babies born in the UK in 2007 can expect to live to 102.

Advising families that could easily span four or even five generations creates a whole raft of new problems. But they are problems I believe financial planners are well placed to solve.

The opportunities are immense. With the assistance of new technologies, I am confident the demand for well qualified and informed financial planning will continue to grow.

I never found out what happened to the Lygon trophy. But perhaps it needs dusting down and relaunching.

John Moret is principal at MoretoSipps

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