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Dennis Hall explains…

I’m often asked to explain the difference between Financial Planners, Financial Advisers and Wealth Managers. Understandably, many people think they’re one and the same.

So, what are the distinctions and why does it matter?

As I am none of the above, I sat down with our Founder and Chartered Financial Planner, Dennis Hall, to get a definitive answer.

Dennis, why do these different titles exist? And which one do I choose?

Whether it’s adviser, planner, wealth manager; the descriptors used by different firms should indicate the kind of advice you receive. But, aside from titles such as Chartered and Certified, which are awarded by professional bodies, there are no hard rules about how financial advice firms describe themselves.

Can you explain each one to me?

Yes, financial adviser is perhaps the most frequently used title and covers a wide spectrum of firms and individuals. Many of these will be ‘transactional’ firms where the advice leads directly to the purchase of a financial product such as an Individual Savings Account (ISA), life insurance policy or pension plan.

And Wealth Managers?

On the investment side of financial advice many firms have styled themselves as ‘wealth managers’ and whilst there are wide differences between individual levels of service, the core proposition is likely to be investment and portfolio management. The focus is on acquiring assets to manage.

 And you’re a Financial Planner. What does that mean?

At Yellowtail, we have deliberately chosen to style as a ‘financial planning’ firm where the focus is on identifying desired outcomes, such as achieving financial independence or cascading wealth down to other generations. The investment strategy and the financial products tend to be the final pieces of the puzzle, rather than the central focus.

So, you focus on the plan before discussing ISAs, Investments, Pensions?

That’s right. The plan is the financial model that you get to test against various scenarios before you start deploying capital or locking into financial products.

 When I sit down with you, the Financial Planner, what can I expect from our meeting?

We’ll have an open conversation about where you are now and where you want to be. What do you want your future to look like? You may have some “burning questions” you’d like answers to first, but after that we’ll discuss your plans. Your visions and values. Our skill as financial planners is to take this information and turn it into a number, representing the amount of savings, pensions, and investments you need to achieve financial independence. We’ll create an overarching strategy to carry you through from now until death. We’ll help you understand how hard your money needs to work and we’ll protect you from any financial shocks along the way.

Would you say there is an element of life coaching in your approach?

 Yes, there’s an element of coaching in my work. A client once pulled me up short when I used the term life coaching, but as with many of the people we look after, the relationship is a long-term one and he has since agreed life coaching has been a part of our work together.

 How will I feel when I leave my meeting with you?

 Well, many of our clients tell us the financial planning process is the most enlightening financial advice they have received. But essentially, you will leave the first meeting with more clarity and a feeling of greater control over your finances.

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