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Five things I've learned: IFA Jarrod Ellis

25 February 2019

The director and 50% shareholder in Hertfordshire-based Delta Financial Management shares five key lessons learned from a career in financial advice…

Man annotating notebook

1 Challenge assumptions

Clients approaching retirement often wish to leave their pension commencement lump sum invested rather than repay their mortgage. Achieving historic returns of 7% per annum from a balanced portfolio, while paying a mortgage rate of 2%, seems like a recipe for riches.

However, if you frame the subject in terms of borrowing money to invest in risky assets, you get a very different answer. Yes, there are considerations around inheritance tax, access to capital and the need for income, but most clients opt to repay their mortgage.

2. Never assume anything

I asked a high-profile client with an income of more than £1 million a year her biggest fear. Her answer was ‘running out of money’.

Digging deeper I discovered that her sister lived in a large house she had purchased and her father in a flat she had bought. The pressure to maintain the income to support wider family was significant. We had an honest chat and she persuaded her sister to downsize to reduce the strain on her finances.

3 Ask for feedback

Customer surveys can provide a rich source of information. ‘What do we do that you like?’ ‘What service do you wish we could provide?’

Think carefully about the questions to ask, but equally act on feedback. The same applies to your staff. An anonymous staff survey means that employees can freely speak their mind, make suggestions or ask questions.

4. Manage expectations

If a client comes to me with a lump sum to invest, one of the first questions I ask is ‘how much can I lose you?’ Obviously, I am not looking to lose them money and we discuss target returns and so on, but clients need to understand that investment markets go down as well as up.

Financial planning is an art not a science – some of it is based on educated guesswork.

5. Enjoy every day

What we do is well paid and can be very emotionally rewarding. We are very lucky to work in a profession where we can make a positive impact on people’s lives, helping them through the bad times as well as the good.