Compared with how things are today it was relatively straightforward to set up a small one man IFA directly with the regulator (FIMBRA at the time) back when I first started out on my own. Not so now.
Principals are often faced with the unenviable task of compromising profitability in order to remain compliant. For some firms the temptation to put profitability ahead of compliance can mean crossing their fingers that their size means they won’t register on the regulatory radar.
The temptation to hope for the best is great indeed and small firms are most vulnerable – particularly when the main business writer also acts as compliance officer, paraplanner and sometimes also even administrator.
New business levels for many IFA firms has fallen off a cliff edge this year with the bread and butter income previously generated by mortgages now all but dried up, so sources of new business and a robust stream of ongoing income are critical factors in the survival of IFA firms over the next 2-3 years. At times like these it is natural to look at your options, and for many selling up is the best offer open to them.
What businesses such as ours offer is the chance for advisers to do what they do best unencumbered by administrative tasks.
Bradbury Hamilton, along with other forward thinking firms has built up a recurring income stream that represents more than 50% of our turnover. The proposition to the client is one of ongoing service and quality advice from well qualified advisers who only advise, stripping down all other distracting functions from their role.
We are able to do this through the prudent use of paraplanners. And on this subject I am, some have said, evangelical – those firms that do not utilise their paraplanners to full effect will simply see business slip through their fingers.
Going forward there may be a place for some IFAs doing everything themselves but why should highly experienced and qualified advisers do substantial amounts of administration when most would prefer to be client facing?
For our well qualified and experienced paraplanners their vital role is to produce reports of a high standard for the clients. As a firm of Chartered Financial Planners our clients expect their advisers to advise, not do the admin.
That is why our advisers have access to a paraplanner and administrator as well as clients from our database. The adviser does the fact find, then passes the notes to the paraplanner, who prepares the report for the adviser to check correct and sign off. This regulates the quality of the work produced from a compliance point of view as the paraplanner actually produces the report but does not compromise the input of the IFA.
The successful IFAs of the future will be doing likewise.
Sheriar Bradbury is managing director of Bradbury Hamilton
The views expressed in this article are those of its author and do not necessarily represent those of the company he represents, IFAonline or any other Incisive Media affiliated organisation.IFAonline
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