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Rebecca Taylor talks target markets, younger savers and the impact of robo-advice

Rebecca Taylor, former president of the IFP and managing director of Aurea Financial Planning talks to Adviser Business Review about the firm’s target market, encouraging younger generations to start saving and the impact of robo-advice

Adviser Business Review: What inspired you to pursue a career in financial planning?

Rebecca Taylor: I hadn’t set out to forge a career in financial advice, I fell into it by accident but the biggest issue for me was that I’m not a natural sales person so meeting targets and working in that environment was completely alien to my nature. When I realised there was a different approach in the form of financial planning I latched on to it. I applied for the CFP process, at that point not knowing what impact it would have on me, but it was a real eye-opener and completely transformed the way I approached the business.

ABR: How would you describe Aurea Financial Planning’s typical client?

RT: Loosely speaking, we target the pre-retirement market, as I’m of the opinion that you can make a real difference to that segment of the market. People in their 50s start to think much more about their future and whether they can retire and it’s fantastic being able to help. We don’t work with ultra high-net worth clients, because we feel that if you have so much wealth you don’t really need to plan for the future then the value of what we can do for you is limited. Therefore, we prefer to work with the mass affluent market; those who have done well and have assets of between £500,000 and £2million.

ABR: What can be done to encourage younger generations to save?

RT: It’s not easy to get younger people to save, as lifestyles are very different today to how they were. People don’t give a second thought to small expenditures like that coffee on the way to work, so I think in order to educate people we need to address habits.

Of course, people go through phases in life where being able to put aside some money is doable and other times it’s out of the question. However, it needs to be instilled that when they can afford to save something – no matter how little – they do. It’s all about having discipline and I think we need to be doing more to encourage youngsters to save the minute they leave school. To have that saving mentality from a young age will make a world of difference.

In the future, I would like to work with younger people on a pro-bono basis, because I do believe it’s important to put something back in and every little we can do to help future generations we should.

ABR: How effective are events like Financial Planning Week in highlighting awareness of planning for the future?

RT: Financial Planning Week is one of the biggest things the industry has ever done to promote financial planning and to have a drive like that on a yearly basis is a fantastic way of highlighting the importance of thinking about your finances. It allows people who may not normally seek advice the opportunity to discuss matters with a financial planner and have those important questions answered. The whole initiative is about sharing as much information and knowledge as possible and as an awareness campaign, I think it’s worked brilliantly.

ABR: What would you say was the biggest lesson learnt during your time as president of the IFP?

RT: I was a few months into my role, when very sadly Nick Cann was taken ill and that of course changed the whole dynamic. Nick was really the face of the IFP and did a fantastic job, but his absence meant I had to step up which was a daunting prospect and a huge learning curve for me.

What I did very much enjoy was learning how international organisations like the IFP work and it was great to see what fantastic things the likes of Canada, Australia and South Africa were doing.

One of the hardest parts of my three year term was the merger with the CISI which took up a huge chunk of that time and was very stressful. As president, you’re the one person that has to stay consistent, and you don’t have the liberty to express your own feelings which I found challenging. That said, I value the whole experience as president very much, as I changed and grew a lot in that time and it’s taught me a great deal.

ABR: What opportunities and challenges do you see for the advice market?

RT: I see the rise in technology as both an opportunity and a challenge. With regards to financial advice, there is a rapidly growing amount of information on the internet and the advent of robo-advice will, in that sense, be a challenge as it presents a cheap and efficient alternative to an adviser.

However, I do think that will only appeal to a certain segment of the market and there will remain a large proportion of people who have slightly more complicated situations and require someone to sit down and talk them through things. Those people will pay a premium for that advice and that creates a great opportunity for those financial planners who can offer an unrivalled service.

Looking ahead, I see the traditional advice-type service being watered down and people will either opt for the cheap and cheerful DIY service or want a financial planning firm to guide them and offer them the support they need.

I also think we need to be cognisant of the fact that younger people are growing up in a world where everything can be done online and there needs to be some kind of proposition that provides them access to a personal but affordable service. I don’t yet believe the market has created an efficient way of pricing that model, but I do think it will have to be developed going forwards.

ABR: What are your growth plans for Aurea Financial Planning?

RT: We have modest plans for the future; we currently have 70 clients and we will be looking to take on a further 10 new clients over the next two years. We are active on all the search engines and review websites, and last summer we made the decision to employ a PR firm to raise consumer awareness. It’s important that prospective clients see our name in the press and come to think of us as a firm they can trust.

Visit the Aurea Financial Planning website

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