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The Seven Hats of Financial Advisers

This article is in the next edition Canterbury Tales – our local Law Society publication – and is written by one of our Directors, Andrew Nuttall.  Although aimed at the legal profession, it does a great job of explaining the many ways we help our clients, which go far beyond investment advice.

When people approach us for investment advice at a personal level, or in their capacity as Trustees, they can be inclined to see us as playing just one role – delivering market beating returns year after year. Unfortunately,  we don’t have a crystal ball that allows us to always select the top performing fund or security with-out the benefit of hind-sight. However, helping trustees and other clients make sound decisions about their investments is our core role, and we have found that there are seven hats we aspire to wear without ever having to try and predict the future.

  1. The Expert: Investors need advisors who can provide an objective assessment of the state of their finances and then develop risk aware strategies to help them meet their goals.
  2. The Independent Voice: Our clients value an independent and objective voice in a world that is sadly still dominated by people either promoting their employers’ products or other securities that pay a commission and encouraging clients to buy and sell securities.
  3. The Listener: The emotions triggered by financial uncertainty are real. A good adviser will listen to client’s fears, tease out the issues driving those feelings, and provide practical long-term answers.
  4. The Teacher: Getting beyond the fear and flight phase often is just a matter of teaching investors about; risk and return, diversification, the role of asset allocation, and the virtue of discipline.
  5. The Architect: Once the above lessons are understood, the adviser becomes and architect, building a long-term wealth management strategy that matches each person’s appetites and lifetime goals.
  6. The Coach: Even when the strategy is in place, doubts and fears inevitably rise. At this point, the adviser becomes a coach, reinforcing the first principles and keeping the client on track.
  7. The Guardian: The long-term role of an adviser is that of a light-house keeper who scans the horizon for issues that may affect clients and keeping them informed.

Our industry (I believe that one day it will become a profession) is rapidly moving in a positive direction. The provision of prudent investment advice involves much more than making predictions on tomorrow’s winning asset classes, securities or products.  There needs to be greater emphasis and focus on process, governance and investor outcomes.

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