We’re proud to be a Partner Member of the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing.
We love a differentiator (remember, there are no USPs in financial planning!) so, we were intrigued when Chris Budd told us about two new initiatives which will help financial planners stand out from the crowd.
Over to Chris to explain more:
One of the most common lines that you see on IFA websites is: “Come and talk to us, we are not like other firms”.
In a marketplace where everyone is purporting to be unique, but actually deliver a very similar outcome, how can you genuinely distinguish yourself from other firms?
What are you promoting?
Another common trope of IFA websites is for the front page to talk in terms of ‘Helping you live the life you want’, then the ‘What we do’ section lists Pensions, Investments, Retirement Planning.
One way to distinguish yourself might be to promote a different type of outcome. Do clients really care if your investment management delivers above-average returns? Do they tell their friends about how you consolidated their pensions?
There’s every chance that they would tell their friends how you helped them realise what gave them meaning in life, then how your cashflow forecast demonstrated that it was possible.
Happiness as an outcome
In this way you are marketing the outcome of your advice – not what you actually do, but how the clients’ lives will be changed as a result.
Adopting a financial wellbeing approach, helping clients to be happy and not just wealthier, is one way of creating such outcomes
It is not enough, however, to simply state this on the website. If you’re going to claim that you deliver a financial wellbeing-oriented service, you need to actually deliver such a service.
In many ways, this is one of the main reasons we founded the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing (IFW). As a not for profit organisation, we are a place for like-minded individuals to learn from each other and share.
We also provide training and education to create a pathway for firms to deliver financial wellbeing to their clients. If a client sees a website advertising financial wellbeing, we provide the evidence that this is an accurate claim.
The Financial Wellbeing Certificate
We do this in two ways. Firstly, there is the Financial Wellbeing Certificate.
This is a new six-module training programme delivering a total of around 18 hours CPD. It looks at the theories of the relationship between money and happiness in all aspects. Most importantly, it then applies this knowledge in a practical setting to help advisers and their firms deliver financial wellbeing.
Written by myself, with significant input from experts such as Neil Bage, Jan Bowen-Nielsen, Simonne Gnessen, and Yardstick’s own Phil Bray, the certificate delivers everything you need to help clients get financial outcomes which will increase their wellbeing.
The first cohort starts in February but has just two vacancies left. For more information and to express interest in this or future cohorts, check out this page of our website.
The Financial Wellbeing Audit
Several firms, whose owners and advisors are members of the IFW, have asked to use our logo on their website as a way of evidencing that they truly do deliver financial wellbeing oriented advice.
Before they can do so, however, they must pass our financial wellbeing audit. If the certificate provides a pathway for individual advisers in how to deliver financial wellbeing, the audit provides the same for the firm.
We ask for evidence in several areas about both the individual advice and also the firm as a whole. Based on the five pillars of financial wellbeing, it asks questions such as:
- Whether the client objectives are a mix of goals and motivations
- If the advisers discuss with the client how their spending aligns with their objectives
- If the firm provides training in areas other than technical knowledge.
Whether they pass or not, the firm gets a detailed pathway of how they can improve this element of their service proposition.
If a firm does pass the audit, they can proudly boast in their marketing that their advice is aimed to help their clients to be happier, not just wealthier.
Maybe one day, every firm will display the IFW logo. Right now, however, it really is a way to prove that you really are different from the rest.