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Adviser Workshop: How to explain tax and pension changes to clients

Adviser Workshop: How to explain tax and pension changes to clients

Arthur Childs (pictured), Martin Bamford and Barry Horner use various methods to update clients on rule changes, including website guides and blogs, newsletters and face-to-face meetings.

Arthur Childs

Managing director, Arch Financial Planning

Whenever the government announces changes to taxes or pensions in the Autumn Statement or the Budget, we look at it thoroughly and talk about what it means for our clients.

We look at government websites, but we tend to get our information from providers because they filter it: it’s quicker and easier to digest. We have monthly team meetings and individual advisers are responsible for contacting their clients directly.

Using plain English and webinars

We produce written guides, which are published on our website and sent out in newsletters to all of our clients. Transcribing complex information into plain English helps break down knowledge barriers.

I’ve been working on upgrading our information dissemination format and will be using webinars, a mixture of video and PowerPoint presentations we will put online for our clients. Rather than spending hours reading lengthy documents, they can easily catch a webinar. Simplicity is the way forward: people like looking at well-presented, easy-to-assimilate information with illustrations.

Martin Bamford

Managing director, Informed Choice

It often takes some thinking as to how policy changes will affect us and our clients.

We keep a fairly keen eye on the various trade publications, on the news in general and, to some extent, product providers when we get technical updates from them, although some are less common than they used to be.

Daily blogging and weekly newsletters

We use blogging to a large extent. I think it’s crucial in creating a close sense of discourse with our clients.

We write one or two blogs a day and communicate those to our clients in a weekly newsletter, so if there are changes, for example, in the Autumn Statement to the annual allowance and the lifetime allowance, our client base is on point.

We see each client once a year for a review meeting, so we can explain then if there are any fundamental changes that have an explicit impact on them.

Our Twitter presence is very healthy. We use it to peek over the fence into Whitehall and the Treasury through industry insiders. Very often you’ll get breaking news from journalists or staff that can have an immediate effect.

Barry Horner

Chief executive, Paradigm Norton Financial Planning

There’s nothing like picking up the phone to give clients direct reassurance. If a number of clients were concerned that higher rate tax relief was going to go in the next Budget, we would put in a call to reassure them, but only for clients for whom it was relevant: it is down to knowing your client.

Relationship managers

We have a number of relationship managers, and they take it upon themselves to notify clients if we haven’t done something centrally.

For recent government pensions announcements, our technical director William Pratt oversees those communications.

We have a group of financial planning professionals with pensions expertise who meet on a monthly basis, and if we feel it’s relevant to notify clients of changes, we’ll do it through that committee.

But we find most of the communication we have with clients comes at our half-yearly face-to-face review, unless there’s something dramatic, such as the recent Autumn Statement.

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