Financial planners must pass a series of rigorous exams before they are qualified to provide their services to the general public. Some are very good at what they do while others do what they are good at, or at least qualified to do.
A major difference comes down to focus and approach.
In today’s world of complex finance, financial planners must take on an approach that places the extended lifetime needs of the customer first, allocating time to understand not only the immediate needs of their clients, but looking beyond into new areas that will impact those needs.
If we take the example of financial planning today, it must include planning for new arrivals (children) and estate planning and demonstrating to clients how there are no longer clearly defined product needs set within particular age bands. Instead, great financial planning must take on a whole new approach and include less discussed areas of physical and mental well-being as well as practical money management needs.
Educating clients and consumers in general of the links between physical and financial health is important. In a recent Harvard University study, it was shown how smart students don’t always understand money, little wonder! Finance today has become complex consisting of less and less physical interaction with cash. It is becoming abstract, which may be great for convenience but terrible for reminding us that money, our money is a VERY finite resource which we need to manage carefully.
Financial planners, financial advisers, product producers and even schools have a duty to provide relevant financial education to consumers, in plain English. This is a core goal of both the OECD and UNICEF. This year, English school authorities have begun to introduce personal finance into the curriculum.
In the meantime, it is those financial planners that factor in the extended financial needs of their customers as opposed to the more limited product needs which sets them apart!
Frank Conway is founder MoneyWhizz.org, the financial literacy service for students and young adults.