Financial services: the third professional service 

January 2, 2018

Independent financial advisers should be viewed on the same professional level as lawyers and accountants, says Lee Hartley, managing director of Fairstone

Change in the asset and wealth management (AWM) industry is now accelerating at an exponential rate and a recent PwC report predicts that by 2025 global assets under management will have almost doubled, rising from US$84.9 trillion to $145.4 trillion.

Here in the UK, new pension legislation has effectively doubled the period of time that financial advice is needed, and a recent Royal London survey suggests that over the next ten years £400 billion will be passed from grandparents to the next generation, showing that the need for professional financial advice is stronger than ever.

Despite this, financial advisers are not often recognised for the professional service they offer.

Fairstone CEO, Lee Hartley, says: “If the professional services industry is defined as a range of occupations that provide support to businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, then we must expand the common view that professional services includes lawyers and accountants alone.”

Encouragingly, accountants and solicitors are increasingly regarding financial planners as their professional peers. This change in attitude can largely be attributed to the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), which forced the financial advice industry into the modern age. A

post-RDR world means increased regulation, legislation, compliance, standards of professionalism and education. This has improved the way that financial advice is provided and monitored and has brought the industry in line with its professional services peers.

Across the professional landscape, Chartered status stands proud as an indicator of the highest standards of learning and ethical behaviour and today over 23,000 individuals and more than 900 firms have achieved Chartered status. This commitment to upholding the standards expected of Chartered professionals has further strengthened the position of independent financial advisers (IFAs) among other professional services.

Ian Muirhead, chairman of Solicitors for Independent Financial Advice (Sifa), is well placed to comment on the changing landscape. His body provides support services to solicitors, accountants and IFAs. Ian says financial advisers have a big role to play in helping solicitors and accountants to maintain relationships with their clients and to take a holistic view of their clients’ professional needs.

As one of the UK’s largest Chartered financial planning firms (Fairstone Financial Management and Fairstone Financial Management City), Fairstone can demonstrate the highest standards and ethics across the business and its advisers can support business owners to manage their finances in a holistic way. It works alongside existing professional advisers, such as lawyers and accountants, to ensure that all parties are working together to achieve the best outcome for the client.

From efficient tax planning and employee incentive schemes to company pensions, corporate property and everything in between, a financial planner can help business owners to manage their corporate affairs alongside their personal investments, retirement goals and estate planning needs.

Lee continues: “This shift in attitude and the recognition of financial advice as a professional service is a positive step forward for the industry as a whole. At Fairstone, we strive to remain innovative and as a Chartered firm to maintain the very highest standards. We work closely with some of the UK’s leading law firms and accountancy practices and I hope to see financial planners recognised on the same level in the near future.”

Fairstone Group 
Fairstone Group incorporates Fairstone Financial Management, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority – FRN: 475973