Stories of stockbrokers and bankers fill our screens, but examples of financial advice in popular culture are few and far between. One exception is Marty Bird, a financial adviser in the hit Netflix series Ozark, who is forced to launder money for the mafia. Fortunately for our clients and advisers, this is worlds away from the day-to-day activities of a Wren Sterling adviser.
How did this all come about? During a meeting discussing ideas for our twice-annual magazine, the team began discussing examples of financial advice in popular culture – or rather the lack of them. Surely there would be plenty of examples in ‘The Big Short’ and ‘Trading Places’? So we had to ask, why aren’t there more examples of our industry in TV, theatre or film?
A simple explanation is that when financial advice is done well it is not worthy of dramatisation. Perhaps that’s why so many fictional financial characters turn to crime – because their stories are simply not sensational enough without it. In reality, financial advisers are like football referees. If they’re having a good game, you rarely notice them. It usually means things are going well and they’re keeping the match on track.
If your sole reference for what a financial adviser does is Marty Bird, you might benefit from these definitions.
What is financial advice?
A financial adviser supports their clients with decisions about their money. Their advice is deeply personal unlike financial guidance. Financial guidance is offered by sources like the Money Advice and involves sharing information on the options available to you. They will not recommend any one product or option over the other. Financial advice involves working with you to understand your specific needs and concerns, create a clear picture of your assets, and recommend a plan to help you achieve your goals.
What is holistic financial advice?
A holistic financial plan means that all areas of your financial plan will be considered. With holistic advice, an adviser can help you prepare your assets for the future and accommodate any foreseen life changes like getting married, having children, or retiring, and discuss provision for the events no one can predict – like sudden job loss, and unexpected illness.
You may wish to discuss your investments, protection plans and pension contributions, but with a holistic approach, your adviser will review your past, present and future plans which can help you save money in the long run.
What is the difference between independent and restricted financial advice?
Some advisers are restricted and may only able to recommend products (such as investments, pensions or protection policies) from particular providers. These advisers may receive a portion of their fees from providers for recommending their products. Independent advisers search all available options ‘whole of market’ and don’t have restrictions or incentives influencing which products they are able to consider.
What does a financial adviser do?
When you meet with your adviser they will get to know you, your goals, and your finances through a ‘fact find’. This is a discussion where you can talk about what you want to achieve, ask questions, and voice any concerns. This will form the foundation of what will become your advice. With this knowledge, and their familiarity of rules and legislation, the adviser will guide their research and find possible avenues to help to achieve your goals.
Your adviser will present this advice to you, explain their recommendations, educate clients about their plans where necessary, and can support you in the implementation of this advice. If required, they can help you fill in any necessary forms, chase lost pensions and investments. Your adviser can also provide on-going advice; which includes monitoring your financial plan, checking at regular intervals to ensure that everything is working as it should, and reviewing any changes to relevant legislation.