At 1825, we believe that good financial planning and advice must be centred on understanding you, the client, then applying our expertise to help you build a plan that fits your aspirations. All well and good. But how does your financial planner make sure that the vital “understanding you” aspect is successful?
I caught up with James Corcoran, one of our Chartered Financial Planners, to give you an insight into the world of financial planning – from a planner’s perspective:
James, if you’re at a party and someone asks you “what do you do”, what do you tell them?
James: I have to admit that I slightly dread that question! Not because I think there’s anything wrong with being a financial planner – in fact I think it’s a great job that lets me help a number of different people on a daily basis.
No, I sometimes dread that question because when I answer ‘financial planner’ I know what is often coming next. Typically, the follow-up questions are always about what the best ISA, or what do I recommend about pensions or interest rates… and that’s where it can be a problem.
Maybe dentists and doctors will sympathise with that!
James: Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about this stuff. As my clients (and colleagues) will confirm I’d happily talk about all aspects of financial planning until the cows come home. The issue is that at a dinner party or at the school gates, if I am asked something like “Are ISAs any good?” or “Is it worth taking my tax free cash out of my pension?”, then it’s just not the right environment for a proper, in-depth, discussion.
That’s because of the personal nature of financial planning. The detail is very important, as is keeping up to date. So a quick chat doesn’t let me really understand a person’s goals, so it wouldn’t be fair to answer whether ISAs or tax free cash are worth it for them.
How would you describe your day job?
James: Each day is really different because our clients and their lives are different so what we do for them depends on what they want from us. The way I explain it to my daughter is that I “help people look after their money” – and, in a nutshell, that really is what we do.
I’ve often started a meeting with a client discussing pension options and ended up in a thought-provoking conversation about the meaning of life. This is because I need to understand my clients’ personal circumstances and goals before I can give advice. Without knowing their destination we can’t plan how to get there.
My specialism is in holistic financial planning – that means it’s all about building enduring relationships with clients and providing them with tailored advice specific to their circumstances and objectives. That could be about planning for retirement, considering ways to mitigate Inheritance Tax or helping them to understand the options relating to long term care. It’s the variety that makes it interesting – and the opportunity to make a positive difference to a person’s life.
What about your clients, James? Are they generally similar kinds of people?
James: All my clients are individuals, not just as people but in what they need and want from financial planning. Some want to dig deep into the subtleties of investments and discuss individual fund performance. Others are at the opposite end of the spectrum and have zero interest in finance as long as they’re comfortable that I’m taking care of things.
And both types are fine – as a client there’s no right or wrong way to approach a meeting with a financial planner like me. No matter the complexity of the conversation, it’s my job to understand the best way to help you achieve your goals.
You mentioned explaining your job to your daughter – would you encourage her to become a Financial Planner?
James: Right now she’s either going to be a vet or a dancer, but when it comes to the time to choose a career, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. You get to spend your day helping people make the most of their lives, and have confidence in a safe and secure financial future.
Thank you James!
This blog and any responses to comments should not be regarded as financial advice.