Over the last few years the market for financial advice has changed, with the appearance of various companies offering automated investment advice – often known as ‘robo-advice.’ This is how it works: the clients enter their details on a website, answer some basic questions about risk and a recommended portfolio is produced. They are able to invest there and then, without having to speak to a human being. For some people, this is an ideal solution. Vanguard, a huge American investment fund management company, will shortly be bringing a simplified financial advice solution to the UK. Full details aren’t yet known but my guess is that it will be a low-cost, telephone-based service, concentrating on investments and pensions rather than comprehensive financial planning. Again, this will have its place and, for some people, will give them everything that they need. However, we feel that for many people there is still a need for face to face advice. When we meet a client for the first time, the discussion is rarely about pensions and investments. We talk about where you’re up to in your life – your family, work, health, hobbies, and what you want to be doing and achieving over the coming years. If n 10 years’ time, you were to look back, what would you want the highlights of your lives to have been?
We’ll discuss what money was like when you were growing up and how this might have influenced how you behave around money now. Do you find it hard to spend money and, if so, why is that? We try to ask thought-provoking questions – and then we shut up and listen. There are often family issues to build into the discussion around your money – elderly parents to look after, or children/grandchildren who may need financial assistance. How much assistance is helpful and how much is making life too easy? The discussion about financial products (pensions and ISAs etc) comes a distant second to all of the above. I’ll whisper it, but that’s the easy bit, once we know what you want your money to do for you.
Maybe one day there will be artificial intelligence that can do all of this: ask the right questions, listen properly to the answers and provide empathetic and caring advice. Maybe the robots of tomorrow will be able to handhold and provide you with the peace of mind that you require. I don’t think we’re there yet though. If you’d like to have a chat, you know where we are.