Last week I was asked to give a talk on how financial advisers can engage with consumers online. The members of the audience were young financial advisers, trying to plough their own furrow in a very competitive industry.
You may not realise but the average age of a financial adviser is said to be around 58. The exact figure is not important, what is important is that the financial advice industry is in desperate need of innovation and new blood. While new innovations (such as robo-advice) are coming across from the US we also need more innovative thinking about how advisers communicate their expertise to those who need it.
I realised this six years ago and started MoneytotheMasses.com. The aim was simply to deliver knowledge and to empower consumers. I believe that in giving away knowledge freely the universe conspires to give back to you. Unfortunately the world of financial advice doesn't agree with me. Instead it currently works on the principle that they know something you don't and you have to pay them to hear what it is.
MoneytotheMasses.com turns that on its head by giving away expertise that others would charge a lot of money for. The internet is an incredibly powerful tool and can help amplify your message if your intentions are good.
In telling these young advisers about my journey I hope that they will be inspired to follow their passion for helping people. The great thing is that they are entering an industry with a clean slate, free of indoctrinated practices present in some older advisers that aren't always in the best interests of their clients.
When they left the talk the young advisers took away ideas and inspiration that they can achieve what they want while being true to themselves. I also took away something from that talk. That was that the young advisers out there are technically more proficient than many of their elder peers were at the same age. Yet they also want to do things the right way and put customers first. The future of financial advice looks bright, as long as these ideals are not beaten out of them by the industry.
Interestingly, one of the young advisers asked me 'why are you telling us how you do what you do? Aren't you worried that someone will just copy you?'.
My answer surprised them. I told them that that was the whole point of the talk. I wanted them to do just that, to copy. To forge their own journeys and innovate. To not be afraid to turn their backs on the way their peers do things and challenge conventional thinking. I wanted them to view what they do for people differently. You can only be different from the advisers of the past if you think differently about what you do and how you want to do it. Dare to dream.
For me I dream of helping to reform the finance industry. I can't do that by lecturing people or arguing with them. But in an industry where the old guard will be moving on, by showing the next generation of advisers what they can do by giving willingly to consumers online I might just achieve my dream too.