How does an excellent IFA add value?

Humans can be their own worst enemy when it comes to investing. Also, everyone is not equal regarding their financial literacy or discipline, and an excellent IFA or independent financial adviser helps you to tune out the noise, keeping you focused on sticking with your plan. It 's hard to succeed as an investor without an understanding of one’s investment psychology drawbacks. A great IFA acts as a buffer between the client’s impulses or fears in reacting to the market; also as a behavioural coach, continually reminding the client to think in ways that will help them succeed with their goals.

I see my role as an investment adviser as follows:

  1. Helping my clients' have focus and clarity with their long-term financial goals
  2. Put a suitable and effective plan into place, one that can survive short-term shocks and volatility based on their own risk appetite.
  3. As my relationship with my client deepens, I ask open questions to help them understand their needs driving their fears and motivations in their relationship with money to help them have greater freedom in this area.

Sometimes a client wants safety, and low risk has ambitious plans for an early retirement and needs to increase her pension fund sharply. So, balancing a client’s attitude to risk as well as their capacity for loss along with their requirements to invest is not always easy.

I enjoy gently challenging my client's preconceptions and assumptions around investing, helping them notice the paradoxes and contradictions. We all suffer from cognitive biases, and this can muddy the waters when it comes to clear decisions around investing.

A central claim of prospect theory is that people are not consistently risk averse. Yes, they are much more sensitive to losses than to gains. But they are also risk seeking, both in their attraction to long shots and in their willingness to gamble when faced with a near-certain loss. To complicate things further, we know that people do not have a global view of their assets. They hold separate mental accounts and are much more willing to gamble from some of the accounts than others. To understand an individual’s complex attitude toward risk, we must know both the size of the loss that may destabilize them and the amount they are willing to put into play for a chance to achieve large gains. - Daniel Kahneman, psychologist.

Not having a clear financial plan can cause worries; reassurance is needed around a fundamental question ‘Am I doing enough to meet my financial goals?’ A great IFA helps frame investment decisions around the long term – reminding you to invest what you can while keeping aside funds in case of liquidity needs and emergencies.

Creating a comprehensive plan should address the following:

  • Creating clear, appropriate investment goals with realistic expectations
  • Developing a suitable asset allocation
  • Acting as a behavioural coach to maintain perspective and long-term discipline
  • Making changes to the portfolio when needed – rebalancing and optimising tax planning.
  • Ongoing communication, coaching and educating as needed

Action creates clarity, and an excellent IFA will help you create a suitable plan to work. It is getting you to your long term goals that count.