Why a job title matters in the world of Financial Planning - by Scott Atkinson

When I look back to June 1995, when I started working as a Financial Adviser for a national independent financial advice firm, I now realise that what I did then and what I do now are completely different jobs.

I also understand that the huge array of titles we have is very confusing to people. There is even confusion amongst Financial Advisers, so how on earth do we expect consumers to make heads or tails of it?

Well to make things simpler, I started out being a Financial Adviser. Despite the similarity in the name, this was different to my current job in every sense of the word, from the daily work to my client relationships. But what is massively different is how I felt about my work then versus now. Then, I felt like I was scavenging to make a living. Now I feel like I have the best job in the world where I am privileged to be able to really make a difference to my clients. I am pretty sure my clients then felt different from my current clients about their relationship with me.

Despite these striking differences, as far as most consumers are concerned, I was a Financial Adviser then and I am a Financial Adviser now. To add to all the confusion, I call myself a Financial Life Planner. Rightly or wrongly, the term Financial Adviser has been associated with product flogging and I want to distance myself from it.

Financial Life Planning is a term that is new to most people that are not in our world and even many within it. What I do is not easily articulated. The best I have come up with is:

I help people create a positive relationship with money and help them figure out what is truly important and meaningful to them. I then marry this with their financial data to create a financial plan that inspires them to take action and live their best lives.

Where do I put the bit about how I use life planning to encourage clients to dream big? How do I fit in the part where I coach clients to overcome their obstacles and take positive action? What about the fact that I stick with them on an ongoing basis, through thick and thin, whatever life may throw at them?

I believe we have come to a point now where we all need more clarity. What exactly is the difference between a Wealth Manager and a Financial Planner? I know some Wealth Managers that are actually Financial Planners and some Wealth Managers that just manage money and don’t do any financial planning at all. How would a consumer know the difference?

Can we clearly define the difference between a Financial Adviser and a Financial Planner? I am sure there are Financial Advisers out there I have assumed only do product sales when they actually deliver financial planning. On the flip side, there are definitely product salespeople out there that call themselves Financial Planners.

While there are definitions out there, as far as I know they are not enforceable in the UK and everyone can choose what they want to be called.

All I know is that my clients seem to understand my description of Financial Life Planner, what is involved and how I can help them live the life they want. We talk more about their lives, family’s dreams and experiences than we do about tax wrappers, charges and performance (the boring stuff). All advisers should know about the boring stuff, it’s their job, and you should expect the best of them all.

My clients pay me for proper financial life planning that helps them live their desired financial life and visualise their future one as well.

If you want advice on wealth management or planning for retirement, get in touch with us today at enquiries@gpfm.co.uk or call 01992 500 261 now and see how we can help address your financial future.

This article is for information only and must not be considered as financial advice. We always recommend that you seek independent financial advice before making any financial decisions. Investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested.

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gpfm are an independent financial planning company dedicated to the provision of personal, professional and objective-driven advice for our clients. We have been awarded the Chartered Financial Planners title by the Chartered Insurance Institute for offering high quality, independent and informed advice that meets the needs of our clients.