Andrew Bennett, Group CEO, Beaufort Group reinforces the case for a truly independent approach to financial planning

As one reflects on the immense changes the world of financial advice has seen against the back drop of a seemingly never ending era of ultra low interest rates, continuous changes in pension legislation and taxation, geopolitical upheaval and uncertainty, one consistent element remains. It is the compelling case for truly independent financial advice.

There is little doubt that regulation has led to advisers better educating and informing their clients. Our longstanding clients understand and trust us as we strive relentlessly to offer the highest standards of service. They recognise the difference between restricted and unrestricted advice. We take pride in our independent status as much as we do our professionalism and the high levels of qualification our people have – many hold Chartered Status. The clients pay for and deserve the best possible outcome and this means we will scour the whole of the market for it.

We have found that by avoiding the complications (and no little ambiguity!) of having to describe any restrictions on our recommendations, makes the whole process of advising and recommending that much more straightforward.

Our approach is always to assess our clients’ needs on a case by case basis – starting with a blank sheet and few preconceived notions. It is not formulaic in any way. But what are the decisions that our clients are faced with and need our guidance? Just look at the way we live our lives now. Working beyond the retirement age, living longer, the social care cost time bomb and so on.

And here’s the rub. There are so many more questions that financial advisers and planners are being asked about, not only by their clients but particularly the professional introducers, who view the modern breed of professionally qualified IFAs as their intellectual and professional peers. And the feeling is mutual. Much of our business comes from professional introducers, notably accountants and solicitors. Over the years we have built up excellent relationships and in making referrals, our introducers have to be certain that they are bringing their clients to a firm that is capable of providing the most suitable advice and the most appropriate solutions. This means our advisers (who are required to pass a series of annual tests), remain competent to advise clients who may have a number of legacy policies, assets and investments, often from providers that no longer exist.

Consider the value of a good mortgage broker today. One that will search the whole market for the best (and most appropriate) deal – rather than dash off to the high street lender that advertises the most attractive rate. Ask an insurance broker to shop around for a renewal quote. If you have read about the fabulous transfer values of a long forgotten company DB pension in the weekend papers, ask your IFA!

Maintaining independent status keeps our competitive edge and helps attract first class advisers to our partner firms. Imposing restrictions on advisers, particularly in the event of the sale of a firm to a restricted – orientated network or consolidator, is a sure fire way to lose staff and clients – and watch those assets under influence shrink. We know that restricted firms find themselves compromised when offering advice to clients who may wish to invest in niche products, be they ethical or socially responsible, for example. As genuine IFAs, we know we can provide the right advice and recommend a suitable product for every client, filtered appropriately to suit their needs, demands and objectives.


This article was originally published by New Model Adviser 3rd July 2017.