I’m lucky in a huge variety of ways.
I’ve got a family I’m massively proud of, a “day job” which gives me the opportunity to provide clarity, confidence and security to our clients lives and, especially relatively recently, I get to talk to (and increasingly work with) interesting people involved in my profession who are doing some really interesting things.
Last night I was lucky enough to be sitting in a Japanese restaurant with some of the people I consider to be top of my “Interesting people” list (Yes I’ve got a list….don’t judge me!).
I wasn’t feeling on top form. I’d had a long day, a late night the night before and it’d been a really busy week. However I couldn’t miss the opportunity of sharing a table with people I’ve got a lot of respect and admiration for.
Guys like Pete Matthew, Dennis Hall, Andy Hart and Abraham Okunsanya as well as a couple of the most inspirational women (and we really do need more of them in the world of money…but I’ll save that subject for another time) I know, Hannah Foxley and Tina Weeks.
I respect everyone around that table for a different reasons..but suffice to say each of them are “making their mark” in a unique and individual way each and every day.
We were talking about a range of different subjects including me trying (and failing) to convince everyone that cravats are the future of fashion and all of us trying to answer the question “What was your first kiss?” (I genuinely couldn’t remember – which is worrying!).
However there were a couple of aspects of our conversations which particularly interested me….
The subject of online financial guidance (or simplified advice) and ensuring individuals engage and connect with their money.
It’s a subject which isn’t only being spoken about in Japanese restaurants. The conversation is also happening online (there’s a great article about the pro’s and con’s of a certain aspect here) and I for one have spoken to or emailed with a bunch of different people who are currently building propositions in different aspects of this market.
Now I’m no expert! But let me give you my take….
There is no question in my mind that in the future most of us will protect our families, save for our financial futures and invest our money online.
I don’t see that as a threat to current financial advisers or planners. The commercial reality is that humans (and especially highly qualified professionals) aren’t cheap when compared to systems and our clients know this.
They could do a lot of what we do themselves but don’t feel they have the time, expertise and most importantly discipline to do the job. Many of my private clients just need a sounding board, or a guiding hand, and even sometimes a push in the right direction. They want all of these things to have a human face.
I believe that the market for these clients won’t change fundamentally.
However this raises a couple of questions….
How do you help the individuals with their financial needs who can’t afford “the human touch”?
and, for me more importantly,
“How do you provide the sounding board, the guiding hand, and even the push (or nudge) online?”
If I’m honest I haven’t got a clear answer yet. However (and I’m pretty sure on this)….making the process easy is key.
I’m not a fan of what Wonga do as a business. I think they do more harm than good (both short and long term) to their ‘customers’ financial lives.
However one of the reasons Wonga have been so popular is that they have done something incredibly powerful…
They have made money simple.
Now….Imagine if we could build a simple online proposition to help people plan, save and invest in order to achieve financial security instead of getting into a spiral of debt.
Imagine then if we could make it fun!
Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell have proven that online models work. However I believe there’s a huge gap for a compelling financial planning (and not product) proposition.
Obviously there’s the ‘fear’. Fear of spending money on technology that doesn’t work. Fear of liability. Fear of regulation.
However if the financial institutions don’t get involved there’s plenty of people who work in and around the London technology sector who will (and don’t have the same ‘fears’ of people who work in the financial sector).
That could be a good thing! Maybe we need individuals without certain preconceptions and fears to build something truly innovative in this area. The right answer might be that the tech guys and the planning guys collaborate to build something powerful.
At this stage I don’t know what the future in this world holds.
All I know is that it’s going to be a really exciting place to explore.