There’s a popular belief among many people that financial advisers are in it for the money and little else. In my experience, this is far from the truth.
A career in financial planning brings rewards far greater than money but the role carries enormous responsibility.
This was driven home to me very early in my career when I was just 27 years of age and working in a City Centre branch of a High-Street Bank in the UK. A young lady called Annie was referred to me by a mortgage adviser colleague who wanted to make sure that Annie had adequate life assurance in place to cover the mortgage.
I met with Annie and reviewed her existing arrangements and quickly concluded that she had more than adequate arrangements in place with one proviso. The bank that had sold her life assurance hadn’t written the policies under trust. So, in the event of a death claim, there would have been a need to apply for a grant of probate with inevitable delays and possible inheritance tax implications.
I suggested that she should go back to the bank and ask them to provide a suitable trust deed. Her husband was a pilot in the RAF.
No fee, no fuss, no trying to sell her additional products: just good advice that was appropriate for her requirements.
A few months later Annie called into the office and asked to see me again. She said she had something to show me. I was intrigued.
She produced a small box which she handed to me and when I opened it I saw a medal. She said; “I wanted you to see that. It’s what they awarded my husband, posthumously. He died in a plane crash”
I was 27. I was totally unprepared for this. Should I give her a hug? I did, I couldn’t think of anything else to say or do.
I asked; “Why have you come back to me?”
“Because when I came to see you, you looked after my interests without any attempt to try and sell me something” she said.
Then she said; “I have something else for you as well.” She handed me a cheque for a very substantial amount. “I’d like you to invest this for us, come and meet the kids”
I didn’t know that she had left her two young children drawing under the supervision of my colleague Mary. So, we left my office to meet the children. The scene that met us was the entire banking staff in floods of tears. The children had drawn a picture of a plane crashing into the ground and a happy smiley face up in the sky. “That’s my daddy, he’s in heaven” the youngest said.
I realised in that instant that I was now responsible for the financial future of a widow and two young children who had just lost their father.
Good financial planning has the power to change people’s lives. That experience certainly changed mine.
Written by: Marc Westlake, PortfolioMetrix