What is a Financial Adviser?

We’ve all heard of financial advice, yet so few people actually appreciate what it is and the difference it can make to people’s lives – when done properly. Most would probably picture a Financial Adviser (yes, that’s adviser, not advisor) as an old guy in a bland suit sitting in a dusty office, who contacts you once a year to sort out your ISAs and can tell you a bit about pensions, investments and insurance products. Many will err on the side of scepticism when discussing financial advisers, citing the ‘Wild West’ culture of big commission and little service in days gone by.

These days however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The advancement in regulation and technology, coupled with a growing reputation and attractive career prospects, means we’re seeing more and more young, innovative professionals enter the industry. There is also the ability and adaptability of experienced and established advisers, bringing about an extremely positive transition in the profession. Certainly the majority of financial advice firms I’ve encountered are modern, forward-thinking and genuinely care a great deal about their clients and their business. Compared to similar professions such as accountants and solicitors, Financial Advisers offer a more comfortable and personalised environment for clients – financial planning is a journey, not a transaction.

Financial Advisers are truly interested in getting to know their clients, offering them an environment in which they are comfortable sharing their deepest thoughts and desires, as well as a sounding board for their financial worries and more general concerns – for both now and the future. A true Adviser-Client relationship isn’t really about pensions and investment products; these things are just the backdrop to true financial advice. The real value is added by the ability of the Adviser to listen to his or her clients, understand their situation and offering the best solution for them to achieve their most profound goals and ambitions.

Money dominates so much of our lives, yet so many of us simply see it as a burden. It’s one of those things that we like to moan about, yet for whatever reason don’t take any action to change. Part of the job of a Financial Adviser is to provide clients with a greater insight of their finances, to help create a deeper understanding of how their money works for them, rather than the other way around. I’ve seen with my own eyes the difference it can make to people’s lives to have the burden of their finances lifted from their shoulders, and how their perceptions of money have changed completely through working with an adviser they trust.

Another important aspect of a Financial Adviser’s role is to take away the stress and hassle of someone dealing with their own finances. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve met simply do not have the time or the understanding required to deal with their own money, and they are smart enough to appreciate the value of leveraging the help of a Financial Adviser to handle this part of their lives. Think of the most successful you know, or even those in the wider society – do you think they don’t utilise the help of specialist advisers to make their lives run as smoothly as possible, enabling them to focus their energy on the things they’re good at and make them successful? Of course they do!

The cost of financial advice is so often cited as a negative aspect of the profession; that it’s only available to those with ‘loads of money’ and simply out of reach to those with little resources, but who’s need is just as great. However with the shift that’s in progress within the industry, I think we can expect financial advice to become more and more prevalent in the future. ‘Robo-Advice’ may bridge a gap for those seeking a straightforward financial solution for now, yet nothing can ever replicate or replace the value of the human element of a Financial Adviser; the empathy and understanding towards people’s worries and ambitions.

A Financial Adviser isn’t just someone who explains the technicalities of Investment Bonds and Pension Schemes. A Financial Adviser is someone who demonstrates empathy and understanding towards others, offering solutions to lift their worries and achieve their aspirations.

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