20 years younger or older?

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Firstly, put your guns down! There’s no perfect age as a wise man once said.

When I started my career as a financial planner in London, I didn’t have a hair on my chin and I was advising clients who hadn’t had a hair on their head for a very long time.

Over the past 8 years, I’ve been working with clients from 5 years older to over 60 years older. I have always treated every client with the respect they deserve and loved every minute as I listened to the stories of their lives so far. I have had clients tell me about wars, happiness and severe hardship. I’ve had clients tell me how they have been married for over 60 years and I’ve had clients who got married 6 weeks ago. But what is important is they all had wishes for the future.

It’s been a challenge I have enjoyed and what it has taught me is the same things do worry us all financially and no matter the background, age, sex or wealth we have… financial freedom around money decisions is so hard to obtain.

I have been to be 100s of adviser events/investment updates/professional development days etc and when I look around the room I am always one of the youngest in the room. It’s a sea of grey hair and dark suits. Not that grey hair and dark suits don’t look good.

We are also in an extremely male dominated industry (even though I would argue women are more suited to the job) and a very mature but I say ethically immature industry.

There is a huge, unspoken about issue however brewing in the financial advising world…. And I cannot see a great solution on the horizon.

Who are Australians going to choose to help them deal with the financial challenges of their life over the next 30 years?

We are moving towards a world where the responsibility for our retirement is now no longer the governments and entirely ours. We have all been forced to become personal financial planners and investment managers to a certain extent with superannuation.

Whether we do this ourselves or we pay a professional the obligation still falls on us to make a decision. Our need for sound independent trusted financial advice has never been greater and will only continue to do so over the coming years as we try to prepare ourselves for the day we can throw out that blinking alarm clock as a client once said to me.

The super industry by 2030, just 15 years away is likely to grow from $1.8 trillion to over $6tril – conservatively 3 times the size of today. Super contributions will be 12% and even perhaps 15% per year as Australians understand they still might not have enough. The world will be even more complex and competitive, hundreds of jobs we are doing today will no longer exist and our day to day financial lives will look a lot different.

Technology will be even a bigger part of our financial lives and I’m constantly thinking of how they could add value to my clients. I can only dream at this stage

The issue however is who is going to be able to go on this journey with you and help you make the most of your income while helping you prepare for retirement?

Is it the older advisers who are in the industry today or is the young ones coming through?

Are the older ones best to help you for the next couple of years and then for you to get passed over to a young one when he or she finally decides to do what they are helping you to do – RETIRE.

You see, the industry is changing and it’s changing for the better. Nearly every day now I meet or hear of another young adviser looking to help people the right way.

Gone are the days of high commissions, volume based bonuses and transactional low value work. Good riddance I say.

What the young folk realise is it's a changing of the guard and we do not have enough young ones out there who are willing to take their place. The average adviser age is 57 years old – (Give or take?).

You can see why I noticed the grey hair army.

So my argument is this?

Why pick an adviser that is not in it for the long haul like you?

Why settle for an adviser who is winding down as you are winding up. Why settle for an adviser who is thinking about selling you rather then keeping you. Why settle for an adviser who is stuck with legacy issues of an old commission model business and can’t change with the times. I could continue but I might get shot.

The alternative challenge the young ones will get is the same non-sense we have heard since we joined the industry. “you can’t do this job, you are too young- clients won’t listen to you” “What do you know about life experiences” “You weren’t there in the 1987 stock market crash”

To be honest, I am glad I was not an adviser in the 1980s and 1990s, sure I would have been making a lot of money but looking at the advising world of 2020s and 2030s .. Looks much more like me!