On Thursday 22nd October I was invited to take part in a discussion group at The Palace of Westminster to discuss providing financial advice and education to young people and the financially challenged. The meeting was presided by the Right Honourable Jonathan Edwards who was introduced as part of the Brexit Unit, fortunately for him he immediately diffused any antagonism by saying: “don’t blame me, I voted Remain.” The tension in the room eased which allowed us to move on to the topic for discussion and for the next two hours or so we discussed how younger people could effectively be provided with financial advice.
The meeting was held in one of The House of Commons committee rooms which allowed me to view the wonderful décor and artwork not available to the general public. After the formalities we were treated to wine and snacks in Portcullis House which is where over 200 MPs have their offices. Of necessity security was extremely tight though it was good humoured and efficient. While I have had the privilege of visiting The Commons, The Lords, Downing Street, and Buckingham Palace previously the latest visit gave me a reminder of what a great political system we have where ordinary people like myself can visit and take part.
I have been trying to help a few ‘younger’ people for the last year or so and the FCA regulatory requirements with the associated costs certainly make this job difficult. I believe that the internet has to be part of the solution to providing cost effective advice. Clients’ use of the Personal Finance Portal grows almost daily and I now receive more secure messages through the Portal than I do from emails, phone calls, and post, put together. Via the Portal we not only exchange messages and documents but clients also view details of their plans and investments where the valuations will soon be updated daily. The Premier Service is normally a paid for service but I provide it to all clients free of charge and clients can link their bank accounts, credit cards, and other investments so that they get a complete overview of all of their assets (and liabilities) in one place. Using this facility they can analyse their spending, set up budgets, set up goals such as saving for a holiday, saving for retirement, or reducing debt.
Within the next couple of weeks personalised investment reports will be delivered to clients via the Portal and there is a lot more in development which will be released over the next few months.
With the younger investor in mind the ‘Automated Advice’ section of the Portal was released a couple of weeks ago to a select group of clients and using this facility clients can invest in an ISA or general investment account. Currently the facility to invest lump sums is live but regular premiums will follow soon and pensions and protection is in development. Where this will come into its own is with children of my existing clients who know they ought to be saving in an ISA or a pension but do not want to go to the expense of a full advice review. They will soon be able to start an ISA or a pension at say £25 or £50 a month from the comfort of their own iPad or tablet and then log into their account and see the balance of their accounts alongside their bank accounts and goals. And not only is there no initial fee, the ongoing charge is less than half of the charge of other major companies such as Hargreaves Lansdown.
With the smaller investor being taken care of via the Portal more time will be available for my existing clients. However they are not being missed out of development and one great example is DocuSign which is being added to the Portal within a month or so. DocuSign allows you to sign documents digitally without returning a “wet” signature and though some of you will have used it already the integration with the Portal is going to put everything in one place.
I was impressed last month when one of my clients aged 78 signed up to The Portal and started exchanging messages and documents, though I appreciate that some of you may need help so please get in touch.