IFAs have had to learn how to contend with major and unrelenting commercial, market and regulatory pressures, all while providing their clients with high quality, expert advice on an ongoing basis.
The Retail Distribution Review (RDR) effectively eradicated product commission ensuring total transparency. For us, the business was founded with RDR in mind so already being fee-based and highly-qualified firm, RDR involved little change for us. But some 23 per cent of registered IFAs left the market by the end of 2012 indicating that not everyone was prepared for the changes.
The door-to-door salesman image
It's been a long time since the 'Pru or Pearl Man' knocked at the door but the mindset of 'insurance salesperson' has stuck with advisers. Perhaps now with greater correlation to other professionals charging fees instead of taking commissions and higher qualification levels, it will encourage accountants and solicitors to work more with advisers?
A successfully compliant IFA firm is hugely valuable to an accountant or solicitor - they keep in constant contact with clients, usually a minimum of annually and are far more active in their client's life events such as marriage, children etc. The depth of client knowledge via meetings and factfind completion gives advisers the edge, as it allows the identification of previously missed needs and opportunities.
Indeed, other professionals could learn from IFAs how to share information within their firms pulling expertise from all areas - not something traditionally done by solicitors for example.
Forging professional relationships is merely the first step to maintaining a successful relationship with a professional connection. Ongoing communication is essential. Imagine advising a client to draw an income from their retirement funds, but failing to communicate this to their accountant. In some cases, this could lead to preventable tax complications.
We overcome legislative restrictions with the use of data sharing agreements meaning that we are able to send initial communications, copies of advice, ongoing updates and copies of reviews to our clients’ professional advisers.
With the offer of initial joint meetings at no charge, we can assist at any stage with trusts, estate planning, personal injury, divorce, mortgages and corporate and employer services. In fact with the majority of UK businesses affected by auto-enrolment legislation from this coming April, referrals from accountants in this area are highly valuable. Proper planning is essential and without time to do this, hasty decisions made need to be made in order to avoid hefty fines of up to £2,500 per day!
Accountants have to support businesses throughout the UK with real-time Information and so already have the information in their hands to help their clients take the first step to auto-enrolment planning, the PAYE reference. The Pensions Regulator has a fantastic online facility that marks out all of the stages involved simply by using this reference.
As the gatekeeper to auto-enrolment, we ensure that we support accountants as much as we can so they can benefit from our knowledge and experience, be that on a one to one basis or as part of a seminar or e-shot.
Successful professional connections cannot be maintained on early morning network breakfasts alone, they are a mutually benefiting arrangement where both parties are proud to refer clients with confidence that the same diligence will be shown to them as they would.
Please note: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by our contributing authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of unbiased.co.uk.