If you look through the average internet search history, it may not be apparent amongst the YouTube, Social Media and News searches that we actually have access to almost all human knowledge.
Virtually everything that mankind knows is searchable and clickable and that includes investment theory and financial planning. Coupled with this, we are regularly told that research suggests that younger clients are keen to look after their own financial planning and they now have the tools to do it.
So where do advisers sit in this new, democratised financial landscape?
The retail distribution review (RDR) ushered in a new era of professionalism with minimum qualification requirements and a minimum required number of CPD hours.
Five years on from the RDR big bang, these minimum standards are beginning to look a little weak if the advice community is going to remain relevant when compared to self-investment guided by virtual robots.
We are beginning to see the consumer challenging the value that advisers add for the fees that they charge and I regularly speak to advisers who are struggling to articulate their value proposition. Increasingly, their discussions with clients go like this:
Adviser: As an adviser, I have had to study and pass exams up to level 4.
Client: That’s great, when did you last take an exam?
Adviser: Well, my last one was back in 2012 but I also do annual CPD so I can keep up to date with movements in the economy and the tens of thousands of available products.
Client: That sounds great, it must take ages to keep up to date with all of those economic policy and product changes. How many hours of CPD do you do every month?
At this point, not every client will think that using the internet to access the wealth of knowledge available, a well written robo-advice app and three hours of their time each month will be enough to replace a financial adviser, but the digitally native, younger client community might.
Advisers with a clear value proposition that includes a commitment to life-long learning and a CPD regime that exceeds what an eager client with three hours spare a month and an internet connection can do will continue to thrive.
CPD is so often overlooked as a tool to differentiate the value you deliver when compared to that of your competitors. Recording it can be seen as a chore but, creating a personal CPD regime that helps you to make a compelling argument when challenged by those championing robo-advice will turn it into an asset. So embrace CPD, take it to a new level and make that compelling argument.
About the author: Adam Owen is a member nominated Director of the Personal Finance Society and is a freelance learning and development specialist.