Don't expect your GP to perform heart surgery


There’s been a lot in the UK news recently about GPs and how their heavy workload is putting them under severe pressure.

This is worrying because I would guess we all value the work GPs do and recognise their importance in being able to make judgements on what specialist help we might need at different times of our lives.

While a GP is our first port of call on matters of physical and mental health, when it comes to finances I’d say that advisers are the GPs of the money world.

We expect financial advisers and planners to have a good grasp of all things relating to finance and to be able to pinpoint where our financial health can be improved. We trust them to ‘know their stuff’ and to give us advice that will make a positive impact on our lives.

Having spent a career working with financial advisers in one way or another, it’s clear that unlike GPs, many advisers undervalue their role as generalists and underplay the benefits their wide and varied financial skills deliver to the overall value they provide to their clients.

Having held this view for a while, I found it interesting to see Tony Byrne from Wealth & Tax Management expressing similar thoughts in a recent edition of Money Marketing.

Why is confidence about value such an issue for advisers? Could it be that many put too much emphasis on investments and underplay other areas of their expertise?

As the GP model shows, it’s not feasible to be all things to all men (or women) and often what people are looking for is someone who can take a holistic view of the situation and then make recommendations. When someone visits their GP to discuss a specific problem they expect to be directed to a specialist who will have a day-to-day focus on the issue – they don’t expect the GP to perform heart surgery on them.

Of course investments are often the major part of the adviser/client relationship but it’s the context of those investments and how they impact on other areas such as tax planning, insurance etc that make a real difference. Obviously clients want to see good performance from their investments and advisers have a central role to play in delivering that. This doesn’t mean they have to manage the investment side themselves though.

As many advisers are discovering, having third party experts who can focus on specific areas for them and their clients, freeing up time for advisers to see a wider base of clients, is the smart way to build a profitable business. But for this approach to work advisers have to have the confidence to educate their clients about the overall value they are getting from the adviser’s expertise across the whole general spectrum of finance.