How has the process of applying for the Financial Planner of the Year Award benefitted your business? Have you made any significant changes to your business during the application process?
The application process was a wonderful opportunity to assess our financial planning approach as well as our internal processes. It was also a great affirmation that we are certainly on the right track and that our client centricity is key.
It did, however, also highlight the extent to which our industry remains fragmented, resulting in clients typically having to consult several professionals to address all aspects of their financial and risk management. To tackle this, our approach is to collaborate with other professionals in aspects we are not licensed to give advice on or if another skill set is required. This is an area we will be focusing on so that clients receive a more seamless value proposition.
Do you believe that the FPI can improve the selection process in any way?
For practicing financial planners, it is always a challenge to strike a balance between the information that the regulations require us to disclose to clients in the advice proposal document versus what clients can meaningfully grasp. A key take-away for me was to find a good balance between the two and importantly still use a format and language that clients can understand.
What are the changes you would like to see in the financial planning industry?
I think we need to take pride in the strides we have made in the industry over the years. When I started my career 18 years ago, the conversation was around moving from a product-led to a client-centric industry with professionals that adhere to high ethical standards and use their technical skills to positively impact the lives of the clients we serve. The CFP® designation as well as the more recent RFPTM and FSATM designations are a clear indication of our commitment to further professionalising the industry. The ball is now in our court as practising members to increase the prominence of these designations by proudly associating with them and living up to the high standards required of us by our peers and importantly the broader community we serve.
What are your long-term objectives – including those on diversity and inclusion?
One of the pivotal reasons for us starting an independent wealth management firm was so that we would be able to provide holistic financial planning services of a high standard to a broader base of the community, where our eye would remain solely on improving the lives of our clients. More importantly, for me as a black female, it was to use my expertise for the benefit of the community from which I emanate. With this mission, our goal is to continue to grow our practice and ultimately have a presence nationally.
I also believe that one of the most important contributions we can make as professionals is to place people in a position to make informed financial decisions for themselves. It’s vital therefore that we contribute our time and efforts to financial literacy and inclusion initiates, which is an area our practice and I, personally, are passionate about.