In social situations when the subject of jobs comes up and I tell people I’m a financial adviser, one of the most common responses I get is: ‘So, you look after investments?’ This is often followed by: ‘Do you have any stock market tips?’
While investing is a very important part of what financial advisers do, in reality, it’s only one of many services provided. Just as your family GP probably writes a lot of prescriptions for antibiotics, to describe him as an ‘antibiotic prescriber’ would be an unduly narrow definition.
In fact, the family GP – General Practitioner – is a good analogy for how a financial planner might ideally be seen. Just as the doctor is our first port of call for any health-related concerns, so too a visit to the ‘money doctor’ should be the first thing we think about when our financial circumstances change.
In the same way that regular check-ups are a good idea, especially once we reach a certain age, the same is true of financial advice, particularly as we prepare for retirement. And like the old-fashioned family doctor, who knows a lot about the different family members, our individual circumstances, relationships, hopes and fears, the contemporary financial adviser should know these things too if they are to help you manage your financial lives effectively.
Of course, there are limits to the money doctor’s expertise. Just as a GP may refer you to another professional for specialist treatment, so too the financial adviser is at the hub of a whole network of experts who provide specialist advice on such matters as sophisticated estate planning, mortgage and debt services, strategies for family business transfer and so forth.
Do I look at investments? Of course! Wealth creation, management and transfer are all important aspects of a financial adviser’s job. As it happens, I don’t recommend that my clients become share traders as there are much safer and more effective ways to access global stock markets – which means, I’m afraid, that I have no hot stock market tips.
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