In investment terms, a year is virtually a sprint. In IFA of the Year terms, it will feel like a marathon. For those going for gold in our latest competition, launching today, the next 12 months will offer ample opportunity to prove themselves the best independent financial advisers north of the Border.
Many of the qualities they’ll need if they’re to succeed are on display in the Olympics. Sadly, we’re not judging them by their hurdling, their left hook, their butterfly stroke or their pommel horse, although I don’t think we should rule that out entirely for future competitions.
But they will be judged on their knowledge and expertise, an ability to think clearly under pressure, an understanding of what’s needed and an appreciation of what they’re up against. It’s fair to say that the current climate will put all of that to the test. There’s a distinct absence of certainty not only in the markets, but also in the wider economy and among consumers and IFAs have to negotiate that in all three senses.
They’re the ones dealing with clients short on confidence and worried about how the eurozone crisis, for one, is impacting on their finances. They’re having to explain to retirees why the income they get from their pensions is being hammered by lower gilt yields and government rule changes.
How does an adviser make sure that measures taken now to mitigate the effects of market volatility don’t compromise their client’s long-term objectives? How can they ensure that, even though the composition of the funds in which they invest changes constantly, their client’s portfolio continues to accurately reflect their appetite for risk?
These are just some of the difficulties facing IFAs right now – and they’ll be part of the criteria on which our competitors are assessed by our judging panel.
The competition is based around a case study, for whom the advisers will construct a portfolio aimed at meeting their long-term objectives without exposing them to greater risk than they’re comfortable with.
Among those taking part this year is a former winner, David Thomson of VWM Wealth Management. He’s up against Nicola Ellis of Glasgow-based Sinclair Wood, Russell Provan of KPW Investments, AWD Chase de Vere’s Graeme Robertson and Stewart Siegal, of Edinburgh-based Principal & Prosper.
You can follow their progress in Scotland on Sunday, where we’ll be running monthly updates of the finalists’ performance. Every three months, we’ll also ask each of our IFAs to explain what they’re doing and how they’re meeting the objectives they’ve been set.
If you’re feeling bearish, you may expect the eurozone to have collapsed by the time competition judgment day arrives next summer, leaving chaos and turmoil in its wake. Alternatively, we may find that little has changed, with uncertainty the only constant as we lurch from crisis to crisis.
Whatever happens, though, our advisers will be judged by their ability to guide their clients through it unscathed. If they can do that, they’ll have proved that quality financial advice is perhaps the smartest investment of the lot. Their progress will be well worth following.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west