Financial advice, independent financial advice, tied agent, insurance company representative, whole of market, whole of market restricted.
What Is This all About?
Over the years consumers of financial services products have come to understand the difference between independent advice and a tied agent. The trouble is, independent didn’t really mean independent as these advisers were remunerated by commission from the insurance and investment products that they sold. When a firm is paid on the sale of a product, that sale calls into question how independent they really can be.
Tied agents (now more commonly known as restricted advisers), like the man from the Pru, didn’t pretend to be anything else. A bit like going into a Ford garage, you know the salesman can only sell you a Ford. If you seek advice from St James’s Place, the adviser (salesman) is going to sell you a product from St James’s Place.
Now the FCA (the new name for the financial services regulatory body) is getting a little hot under the collar about a new term some advisers are using: ‘whole of market restricted’. They have advised “We do not have a label of ‘whole of market restricted’. Advisers can be ‘independent’ or ‘restricted’.”
So that’s clear enough. If an adviser is ‘whole of market’ he can advise on – and sell – all available products, and if restricted, he can only sell a selection of products.
So What’s an Independent Financial Planner?
Well it should mean someone who is certified by the Institute of Financial Planning. The Institute of Financial Planning is a not-for-profit, independent professional body established in 1986 to focus entirely on the practice of financial planning. They hold the exclusive licensing authority for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERCM mark in the UK. This is an internationally recognised qualification that is awarded to individuals that fulfil stringent experience and knowledge requirements and have been appropriately tested.
A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERCM professional is a Financial Planner who has completed this high level qualification and also abides by a strict code of ethics and professional practice standard. Sadly, anyone can call themselves ‘independent financial planners’ if they wish. The only differentiation is the certified bit!
Now, at MFP we call ourselves MFP WEALTH MANAGEMENT.
So What’s Wealth Management?
To us, wealth management is investment consulting, plus advance planning, plus relationship management. To break that down even further, investment consulting is the management of all investment elements to maximise the probability of clients achieving all that is important to them. This includes portfolio performance analysis, risk evaluation, asset allocation, assessment of costs, assessment of taxes and the essential investment policy statement.
Relationship management is in the service that we provide to our clients and liaison when necessary with a professional network of tax, legal and other professional advisers. All these advisers would have been selected by ourselves for the expertise they offer in their specific areas of professional life.
Oh and by the way, if You Have Taken the Time to Read this Far…
We are a firm of Independent Chartered Financial Planners and hold a British Standard in financial planning, BS 8577. Individually, I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERCM, Chartered Financial Planner and hold BS ISO 22222:2005 – the international quality standard for personal financial planners.