At this very difficult time for financial services - what with the continuing loss of confidence on the back of large asset drops across the board - there was at least some recent good news.
Whilst there is a perception financial advice is not trusted, recent research has shown that one section of the financial services industry that does enjoy a strong level of consumer trust is the independent financial advice profession.
This research contrasts dramatically with what we're led to believe by certain sections of the media.
The Financial Services Trust Index 2009, University of Nottingham, showed that IFAs are the most trusted financial service institution in terms of base level trust, high-level trust, trustworthiness as well as overall trust.
I am increasingly optimistic for the future of genuinely independent financial advice. Driven by a combination of RDR, TCF and the credit crunch, I believe we are on the cusp of considerable and genuine change.
I describe it as a cleansing process and one that I believe needs to happen. While it is unclear what the IFA market will look like at the end of it I am sure it will be considerably stronger and more professional. The emergence of the 'new model adviser' community over the last few years is evidence this is already happening.
How that model evolves from here I am not entirely sure but as people start to change the way they think about money evolve it will.
The area that has caught my interest is life planning and judging by numbers at the first ever life planning conference to be held in the UK a few weeks ago I know I am not the only one.
To a degree, life planning is something I have always done with clients but it was only after attending a two-day course run by George Kinder of The Kinder Institute that I not only saw its true potential but also how well equipped financial planners are to incorporate it into what they offer clients.
It is a great way to develop trust with a client and learn more about them than you ever would do offering financial advice and is now becoming an integral part of the service on offer to clients at Helm Godfrey.
Put very simply, life planning is all about focusing on a client's personal needs and discovering what makes people feel fulfilled. It deals with a person's aspirations before their financial needs. The thinking is that not until you have helped a client understand what they really want out of life can you ever begin to advise them on their finances.
The whole concept of life planning is about as far away from selling as you can possibly get.
It puts the client first at all times and because of this has the power to inject some much needed trust and confidence back into the financial advice sector and further demonstrates the professionalism of the independent financial advisory sector.
Bruce Wilson is managing director at Helm GodfreyIFAonline
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