‘Fail to plan, plan to fail.’ It’s an expression that anybody who has worked in management or the military must have heard a thousand times. Like all well-known clichés, it carries an element of truth and in no aspect of life is the phrase more apt than in financial planning.
Unless you have a financial plan; for retirement, for saving, for long-term investment, for buying your home, for estate planning, the achievement of your financial objectives can be somewhat down to luck.
Sceptics may ask ‘What’s the point of financial planning? What’s the point of any planning? We’ve just lived through the most turbulent, changeable year in any of our lifetimes.’
At first glance, it’s a valid point. On March 23rd last year the UK, like so many countries around the world, went into lockdown. Further lockdowns followed. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs. Businesses which had taken years to build were wiped out overnight. Stock markets around the world experienced tumultuous times.
But over a year later a vaccine programme is being rapidly rolled out. The economy is rebounding. Many of the world’s leading stock markets actually gained ground in 2020. All the world’s leading markets, with the exception of China, which fell 1%, made gains in the first quarter of this year.
What the last 14 months illustrates is not that there’s no point to financial planning, rather, the reverse, that it is more important than ever. House sales continue, we still have our retirement to plan for and we will still be taxed on our savings, investments and our final estate.
What is interesting is that the fundamentals of financial planning have been completely unaffected by the pandemic. If the last 14 months have taught us anything, it is that what we previously thought couldn’t happen, can happen and in many cases, can happen very quickly. So, we need a plan, we need savings, we need a buffer. It has also reminded us that saving, and investing is a long-term commitment and that there will always be short term fluctuations.
More than anything though, we have been reminded of the importance of regular contact between clients and financial advisers. Many of our clients have needed reassurance over the last 14 months; many have had questions that needed answering. It has been our pleasure to provide both, and despite face to face meetings not being possible during lockdown, other alternatives such as phone and video calls have proven to be a great way of staying in touch and providing the reassurance and information sought by many.
Some of our clients and financial advisers have told us of the positive impact this change in working style has had on relationships, with more frequent communication now possible. Not only this but with the increase in video calls and home-working, clients now have a window in to their financial adviser’s world and the ‘person’ behind their professional persona. This in turn has also had a positive effect on the bond and relationship between clients and their advisers.
“A benefit of the pandemic is that we (financial advisers) have had to be adaptable and find new ways of working with our clients and colleagues. The accelerated usage of platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other video calling facilities across all demographics has, for me, been extremely positive. It is certainly more time-efficient and has enabled me to have the increased contact with clients that has been so vitally important over the course of the pandemic. I now have a closer relationship with many of my clients as we speak more regularly. Through adversity and the change in ways we interact with each other now, we have built up an even better rapport and a sense that we are ‘in this together’. And now of course they can see into my home too.
I believe that these new ways of working will ultimately give clients more choice. They will be able to decide whether face to face meetings, video calls or combination of both will work best for them depending on their personal preferences and circumstances moving forwards. They can also be guided by their adviser on the best format for a meeting, depending on the complexity and sensitivity of work being undertaken.”
John Aubrey, Independent Financial Adviser, Ascot Lloyd
What we’ve heard from you
We ran a short client survey in the recent editions of our ‘Stay in Touch’ e-newsletter in order to better understand how the past year may have changed how you see us talking to you going forwards. Here we share with you a snapshot of some of the key insights gathered from the survey:
- Nearly 50% of clients that completed the survey said that they would prefer a combination of face to face meetings, video and phone calls in future.
- If a total easement of lockdown happens in June as planned, of those people that said they would be happy to meet face to face with their adviser, over half said they would be comfortable in doing so immediately. Nearly 60% of those same people said that they would be prepared to meet with their adviser in their home.
- Nearly half of the clients that responded to the survey told us that moving forwards, they would prefer to receive our Stay in Touch e-newsletter on a monthly basis.
There will undoubtedly be more changes to navigate in the future as we come through and hopefully out of the pandemic, adapting to ‘new normal’ ways of living and working. This may further shape and change the ways we interact with you, the dynamics of our industry and most importantly, as you our clients draw on the past year and re-evaluate what you want from life, your financial plan.
No matter what the future holds, we will work hard to ensure that we listen to you and offer you a service tailored to your specific needs, however those needs change over time. We will work with you to make sure that your financial plan is flexible enough to cope and to adapt, and that it is aligned with your future aspirations, whatever they may be.
After all, a goal without a plan is just a wish.
If you require any support or advice regarding your financial plan, please contact your financial adviser who will be happy to help. Alternatively, please complete the form below and a member of our team will be in touch.