Expert advice from a Chartered Financial Planner on what to consider before joining an IFA network

In a recent interview, Douglas Harley, Chartered Financial Planner and MD of Beaufort Financial Forth Valley shared his experience on selecting and joining an IFA network.

What made you decide to join a network?

Regulatory and PI insurance pressures were both major drivers, but the key thing for me was that I needed more support as a business owner. I was regularly working 60-hour weeks and wanted to pass over some of the back-office responsibilities that were holding me back from putting full focus on clients.

I’m also not getting any younger, so wanted something that would offer me an exit strategy when the time comes. I knew I could get this with a network but was determined to find a firm that would support my independence and allow me the autonomy to keep developing the business I had worked so hard to build.

You’ve been with the Beaufort Financial IFA network for just over a year now, what made you choose this firm?

It was clear Beaufort Financial could provide all the above, but what I really valued was that they interviewed me just as much as I was interviewing them during the discussion stages. They weren’t simply trying to get me in the door, and this gave me confidence that it was the right fit for both sides.

Even now, myself and the rest of team feel like we’re part of something rather than just a cog in the machine. I have regular calls to discuss how things are going which isn’t something you get with many networks.

What advice would you give to an adviser who’s currently considering joining a network?

Thorough due diligence is an obvious one, but you really do need to interrogate what you’re paying for – and what you’re getting in return.

The key thing I would suggest is to list out all the jobs you don’t want to keep doing and ask if the network is prepared to take all of them off your desk. Every firm will offer a different level of support, so this a good way to find out if you’ll be genuinely getting value out of a relationship.

Leading on from this, be sure to find out how much direct access – if any – you will get to specialist in-house expertise. One of the things we’ve really come to value is being able to get expert input from Advice and Compliance experts on those cases that are a bit more out of the ordinary.

Aside from COVID-19, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing IFAs right now?

A big area for me is robo-advice. Of course, most people using robo-advisers are younger and don’t have much wealth, but there’ll come a point when this market also needs looking after. Those advisers without some form of online advice offering will find it tough to engage with these individuals owing to a lack of relationships and the different regulatory hurdles in play.

How to start engaging this audience and help them understand the value of advice from a personal adviser is an issue that will become increasingly prevalent as the younger generations begin inheriting money and growing their own wealth over the next few years.

Beaufort Financial Forth Valley is a team of chartered financial planners providing wealth management services to clients in and around Falkirk.

Looking to join an IFA network? Find out more here