I love a good saying, and one of the ones that I find myself repeating time and again is “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” Usually, it rushes across my mind when I’m in the middle of a conversation with a client who’s umming and aahing over my advice, or when I pick up an email response from someone who is undecided.
Doing the Right Thing For My Clients
Over the years, I’ve had thousands of clients, of all ages and in all different types of financial situations. From the very wealthy to those that don’t have that much and everything in between. My job isn’t just to make money for me – I am passionate about people and doing the right thing for their situation, regardless of what money I make. I do what I do because I want to improve other people’s lives. So, when I give financial advice, I do it knowing that I’m giving sound, quality advice that’s genuinely going to make a difference. However, with all the will in the world (and we’ll talk about wills later), you can’t force people to follow my good advice!
Why Don’t People Put an LPA in Place?
Here’s a good example. I have a lovely couple in the early 70s I’ve known them a long while. The wife wants to put a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place but the husband refuses. He thinks it’s too early (there’s not a typo there – they’re in their 70’s). Now I should also mention that he’s got health problems and he’s showing signs of dementia. You know as well as I do they need to put that LPA in place!
The consequences of not having an LPA in place are huge and I’ve written a whole blog about it here. I keep telling them and while the wife agrees with me, it’s up to them to make the decision as a couple. There’s so much at stake, not to mention costly courts. What happens if one of them ends up in a care home unable to make decisions because they have dementia and the other has passed away? The care home takes control! There’s so much stress for a spouse or for the children when they can’t manage their own family’s finances. It is absolutely essential to have control, to make sure you have the people you want dealing with financial decisions so no one else can make decisions you don’t like. Not having an LPA in place also means the risk of spending an absolute fortune going through the court of protection. Trust me, it’s a long, uncomfortable legal process and every year, you have to return to the court of protection to provide evidence that you’re following their court order. It’s painful. Get that LPA done.
Would You Hesitate with “Cheap” Financial Advice?
Here’s an interesting one. Inexpensive financial advice! Sounds good doesn’t it? You’d be amazed how many people think that cheap good advice must be bad because it’s, well, cheap! The thing is, I guarantee my clients that my advice is risk-free, so even when I do offer “cheap” advice, it’s still good advice! This leads me onto my new automated ROBO advice system (which I’ll go into detail at a later date). It’s a brilliant intuitive system where people can place investments for what I call a ridiculous price. It works though. People can invest as little as £250 and it guides the investor all the way through. It’s got my endorsement! People get suspicious because it’s so cheap and they ask me why it’s so cheap? I want ordinary people to have financial advice as cheaply as possible. I can lead people to the automated system but whether they actually trust in it (which they should) is up to them. The thing is, I’ve had a lot of people go “somewhere else” and pay through the nose for exactly the same advice as my system would give them. Why pay more?
Here’s an example of someone who is grateful for “cheap but good” financial advice. I had an enquiry from a guy in a sticky situation. He’s not been able to work for a year due to the pandemic and he has a vulnerable, elderly father. Having contacted no less than six IFAs who all refused him, he was at a loss. Each of those IFAs felt that he wasn’t going to make them any money and it was too much work for little return, so they turned him away. Luckily, he met me. When I said I’d help him, he was so bowled over, it made me feel happy. He’s fixed up a meeting and we’ll take it from there. The way I look at it is, if I have the facilities to help people, no matter what their situation, why wouldn’t I? Of course – as long as they’re prepared to take my advice. I would never force anyone into following my advice and hopefully, this gentleman will be an example where I don’t have to do much persuasion!
When Clients Don’t Part with Essential Information
Here’s another example. One of my team has a client who wants to make an investment, but he keeps stalling when it comes to providing us with vital information. Every time we ask for something, he questions it and it’s got us to a point where he’s missing the boat. If we don’t have the information, we can’t do our job. We’re not being difficult; we’re doing what we’re meant to do and making sure we’ve crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s. It baffles me really.
Where there’s Not a Will, There’s a Lot of Hungry Relatives!
Then there’s the will situation. I keep banging on about it but it’s still amazing how many people avoid it. No matter what age you are, if you own a property or have a significant asset, you need a will in place and not just any old will. Get a will prepared by someone who has proper financial knowledge, or you could end up with a problem. If you don’t have a will some of the problems you may encounter are:
- Anyone can make a claim on your property, including any relative (distant or estranged).
- Your spouse/children/inheritors could end up paying significantly more.
- You might lose out on tax allowances.
Don’t use an online service or even write one yourself, trust me, your will needs to be watertight. Sometimes having a badly written will is worse than not having one. I have a well-off couple at the moment who’ve come to me for financial planning. They’ve got a six-figure sum to invest, they’ve given me oodles of information and they want to move forward. I can definitely help them but guess what? While they sensibly want to invest, their will is badly written and looking at it, they’ve lost inheritance tax planning opportunities.
I have another couple who’ve been together for 30 years, but they haven’t written their wills. As it so happens, he’s got more assets than her and while I’ve told them over the years to get their wills in place, they still haven’t. The stumbling block is that one of them feels that by writing a will, they’ve got one foot in the grave! That’s really a poor excuse – no one knows what’s going to happen from one day to the next. For more on this topic, check out my blog on wills here. Needless to say, I will cover off this topic again in the near future.
Missing Out on Investing at the Right Time
I often encounter clients that have the opportunity of investing hundreds of thousands of pounds but they’re hesitant, preferring to keep the money in the bank where it makes next to nothing. Then, a few years later, those clients come back to me and say that they’re finally ready to invest that money (because maybe they’ve realised it’s making nothing for them!). You know what? I always give them a good return and a few years later they’ll have made tens of thousands of pounds on their investment but what upsets me is that by sitting on that money, they missed out on making even more because they didn’t take my advice years earlier…
Like I said…you can lead a horse to water…
By all means, get a second opinion, get a third opinion if you want but when you have a really reputable, honest, genuine IFA (like me!) who guarantees return, don’t waste time and potentially miss out on opportunity. Worse still, listen carefully so you don’t end up in more than a difficult financial situation later on down the line.