Elephants and the need to change

This week we held the first The Mix Forum, which brought together advisers and a specialist panel of speakers designed to challenge and inform.

Lots of topics were covered but having listened to all of them plus the Q&A session at the end, my over-riding feeling was the key theme of the event was ‘change’ and the need for advisers to grasp it in a positive way in order to future proof their businesses.

The speakers included Rory Percival, until recently a technical specialist at the FCA and now a Financial Advice Consultant; David Gurr from Diminimis, an independent consultancy that aims to minimise regulatory and contractual risk for advisory businesses when using discretionary investment managers; Clive Waller, Managing Director of CWC Research, a specialist financial services research-based consultancy; Rebecca Murphy, Sales Director at Praemium and Mike Roberts, MD of PortfolioMetrix UK.

Topics vigorously discussed and debated included delivering the correct outcomes, utilising technology as an enabler and working with specialists to bring ‘best of breed’ to their propositions, rather than trying to be a ‘jack of all trades’. Another key focus included the responsibilities that advisers should be aware of and how the regulator is likely to view all these aspects. If there was an elephant in the room it was that most advisers are busy running very successful businesses so, to many of them, the message that they need to change may well seem an abstract one – something for the future, why worry now when things are going so well? Also, being very busy, finding the time to make changes about something that isn’t a pressing and direct threat to their day-to-day business is a challenge in itself.

However, what was very clear from the presentations is that not having a strategy for reading the warning signs and being prepared to adapt and develop new ways of working can prove fatal to a business in the medium to long-term. Just look at what Netflix has done to Blockbuster Video and the digital camera to Kodak!

The good news that came across loud and clear is that technology is getting easier to employ and better at reducing the arduous tasks that keep advisers away from what they do best – talking to clients to help them plan for a secure financial future for themselves and their families.