PIMS and the place for products 

Sometimes we financial planners can get a bit sniffy about products and product providers, and it is in this area more than any other that I think that professional comparisons with solicitors and accountants break down.  Solicitors and accountants sell knowledge, of law and of practice.  Even if they “sell” a “product” such as a will or a tax return, neither output is a product in the true sense of the word. 

I’ve just come back from PIMS, which in spite of much ridicule, really truly is hard work, even if it does oblige me to spend 60 hours on the P&O cruise ship Aurora.  But would you think differently if I had had to spend 60 hours at the Lancaster London, or the Grand Hotel Brighton, or even Ansty Hall in Coventry?

For PIMS is merely a conference, with a fairly traditional blend of keynote speakers, group presentations, panel debates and one-to-one meetings with a variety of product providers, all of which have gone through an appointment-making process which ensures that there is almost no chance of meeting a provider which is of absolutely no relevance to your business whatsoever. 

Having sold my own practice over five years ago, this was a timely opportunity to meet new providers and update myself on changes in product offerings.  It was noticeable how many providers wanted me to be made aware of their tax-advantaged offerings, and how many were promoting their ‘multi-asset’ portfolios, either in their own right, or as part of a model portfolio or discretionary service available on a wide range of platforms. 

I have been increasingly convinced that the professional parallel for financial planning is, not law or accountancy, but medicine.  The requirement for a problem to be identified, a diagnosis made, and prescription of a suitable treatment is not only a doctor’s job description, but ours.  And yes, occasionally, non-medical prescriptions which involve no products can be the very effective answer to the problem (exercise some more, spend less).

So while there’s a huge debate going on about advice and sales, planning and products, remember this : a doctor who made no medical prescriptions whatsoever would not be hugely effective. 

The arrangement we are finalising with Defaqto for the provision of product and fund research capability to each member firm will make this aspect of your role considerably quicker and more efficient.  Who knows?  You may even discover products and solutions you didn’t even know existed. 

Products are not everything, by any means, but your clients can do nothing financially without them.  Just like the best GP, define yourself by the quality of your advice, but don’t ignore the importance of making the best diagnosis and the writing the most effective prescription.  

A focus on Products?

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Kevin Moss, 21/05/2014