Paul Lewis has written an article that has annoyed many IFAs. You can read it here. If you haven’t read it, you might as well now, as most of this article will only make sense if you’re familiar with Paul’s intent.
Paul Lewis chose to publish it in Money Marketing, which is mainly read by IFAs and those who use IFAs to distribute their product. The article has been placed to cause maximum disruption, the journalistic equivalent of farting in a crowded lift.
The article has succeeded on a number of levels. Comments from IFAs have been numerous and all have been uncomplimentary to Paul and his article. It has disrupted IFA BAU. Why is it so annoying?
Firstly, it has not actually said anything, but it has implied much – the reader has been left to draw his/her own conclusions but it’s clear that Paul Lewis thinks spending £700 on ancillary services to the purchase of an expensive washing machine is akin to spending £700 on advice around an expensive financial services product. To compare IFAs pricing model to a plumbers has annoyed IFAs but as Paul says
Secondly it has required IFAs to look at themselves from a shared perspective to their customers. I think it very likely that those who pay for financial advice buy top of the range washing machines just as they buy pricey financial products. looking in the mirror, IFA’s don’t like what they see – and that hurts
Thirdly, Paul Lewis’ analogy is substantially apposite. People end up paying a lot more for financial services than they thought they would do and it’s because of the hidden extras within the advisory contracts (and often within the product servicing contracts).
Paul paints an extreme picture for effect, the mirror may be a little distorted but do they think he’s any kinder on bankers, accountants, lawyers and actuaries?
The article is quite funny, I can imagine Paul at his computer grinning. I am sure he anticipated the outraged comments that have accumulated around it and I’m sure he’s grinning at those too.
I was an IFA for fifteen years and still see myself in the game, albeit a stage removed. The picture Paul paints is a grotesque but it’s recognisably me. And for me to think that because I’ve got “actuarial” in my title, I’m exempt from criticism would be even stupider than to say Paul is wrong!
So these lessons are for me as much as for those who are overtly criticising the article and Paul. I’m not beating myself up – I’m gently smiling.
Never take yourself too seriously! It is a sure sign of the insecurity of financial advisors that they consider this an attack on them. It is not- it is an attack on IFA behaviours- or at least the bad behaviours.
Never mess with a good journalist, they have the Klout – quite literally. Paul Lewis is a massive influence, more influential than any IFA, right up there with Martin Lewis and Ros Altmann as a consumer influencer. He didn’t get there for nothing, more people trust Paul Lewis than trust any IFA!
Learn some humility, the man’s right and it’s worth learning from him. The majority of most adviser’s time is spent gaining people’s confidence – it’s called prospecting. Paul Lewis has people’s confidence and can spend all of his time advising- and being listened to.
I sit at this man’s feet, as I do the feet of Altmann and Martin Lewis and ask myself, what are they doing right , that I have been doing wrong?
I don’t know what Paul Lewis got paid for the article but I’d be surprised if any IFA paid to read it. The reason Paul placed it in a trade mag was for the improvement of the trade. If Paul had placed this in the Mail or on a BBC blog then there might have been cause for grievance – after all the article is deliberately oblique, you only get the points he makes, if you are in the know about IFA pricing,
Paul Lewis is doing IFAs a favour. If IFAs don’t get that, then they are doing themselves no favours.