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Financial planners may not have the answers people want, but ask the questions people need | Ten Year Retrospective

Amyr Rocha-Lima
Photo of Amyr Rocha-Lima.

Part of our series of retrospective articles celebrating IFA Magazine’s ten year anniversary. Holland Hahn & Wills Partner and Chairman of the CISI Financial Planning Forum, Amyr Rocha-Lima, shares what he believes to be most vital aspect of the financial planning profession: asking clients the all-important questions.

The economic, market, and credit cycles – as we’ve recently been forcibly reminded – don’t actually change very much over time. And human nature, principally through the amygdala’s so-called “fight or flight” response, doesn’t change at all. But what does change is life.

What this means is that the product-led dogmas of the past are inadequate to cater for the dynamic financial planning needs of modern life.

The implementation of the Retail Distribution Review and its attempts to ensure more transparency within the financial services sector has not come without its fair share of ‘teething problems’, but it has indeed helped turn financial planning into a true profession.

During the 20th century, life expectancy at birth in Great Britain increased from 48 to 74 years for men, and from 51 to almost 80 years for women. Today, nearly 30% of the millions of British 50-year-olds have a living parent. People are marrying later, and having children later still; indeed, more and more people are having children in second marriages. Some of us are already encountering planning situations where our client anticipates having to support a child at university and a parent in a nursing home at the same time.

We know what people want to think about – what will the market do next, when will the Bank of England increase interest rates, what’s the latest hot fund, etc. But, our value as financial planners comes into play when we invite them gently to think about what they need to think about – how to protect their assets in case of an early death or diagnosis of a critical illness, how to fund a retirement that might last 30 years and how to leave a tax-efficient legacy to their loved ones and the charitable causes they care about.

After all, we may not have the answers people want (what will the market do next?), but, much more importantly, we have the questions they need.

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