Special Edition: The changing role of professional advisers
Welcome to the Philanthropy Impact Magazine Issue 12 (Special Edition) focusing on the changing role of professional advisers.
“…we are on the brink of a period of fundamental and irreversible change in the way that (adviser) expertise is made available in society. Technology will be the main driver of this change.”
“…we anticipate that a range of new opportunities will emerge.”
(The Future of the Professions by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind)
One approach is to make adviser expertise available on a value added basis, beyond basics, by delivering additional services such as supporting individuals and families of wealth through their donor journey to make it relationship reinforcing and personal. This does not mean generating a significant cost without being able to monetise the added service.
For example: “The bank (C Hoare and Co) is in the business of building a trusted relationship with its customers,” Alexander explains, “and we believe that trying to make a business out of philanthropy might put that at risk.” Instead he argues that because the Hoare’s service is truly bespoke: partners and relationship advisers must understand all of their customers’ interests so it is impossible not to be aware of their philanthropic as well as their finance needs. Relationships are so well developed that providing the right contacts to someone interested in funding in Kenya, or convening customers with a similar interest in the migrant crisis comes entirely naturally and is one of the ways the bank retains an edge over competitors. (See article entitled Leading from the Front: Alexander S Hoare and philanthropy advice at C Hoare and Co. by Mary Rose Gunn and Alexander Hoare.)
This is what advisers’ clients want according to Philanthropy Impact research.
Philanthropy Impact recently commissioned research mapping the level of philanthropy advice among professional advisers (sample size 383 firms) and a survey of high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) (503 respondents).
• The mapping of philanthropy advice described the components related to three stages of philanthropy advice to individuals and families of wealth – planning, implementation and monitoring/review.
• Less than 20% of the UK’s advisory firms offer philanthropy advice and the depth and breadth of the advice varies significantly. So, while 1 in 5 professional advisory firms may offer philanthropy advice, unless there is a strategic commitment within the firm to deliver holistic philanthropy advice, the reality is that the advice will be limited.
This leaves the client in the situation of the blind man touching the proverbial elephant: they may think they are receiving philanthropy advice, but their experience is only one small part of a far more interesting whole. (See article entitled Learning to give: lessons for advisers and would-be philanthropists by Catherine Tillotson.)
Indeed, the fact that on average the UK’s wealthy population gives a score of just 5.9 out of 10 to the philanthropy advice experience they receive from their professional advisers would suggest that these advisers, at the very least, should consider learning how better to describe the whole elephant to their clients. Better still, if they can join up with other experts to deliver a more holistic experience of the philanthropy advice elephant then everyone will, quite literally, be a winner.
Overall, the results of the Philanthropy Impact research among HNW clients and professional advisory firms in the UK suggest strongly that one of the reasons that the UK’s wealthy population hasn’t fully learned how to give is because many advisers have not yet learned how to guide, coach and support with the joined-up expertise needed to help would-be donors more effectively.
The Philanthropy Impact survey of HNWI indicated that they receive some advice, were not generally happy with the advice and that they wanted more advice and support on their donor journey. This is supported by a recent study by the Charities Aid Foundation entitled Why talking philanthropy transforms the adviser-client relationship The Art of Adaptation where two-thirds of the UK’s wealthiest people want philanthropy advice as part of the services provided by professional advisers; while only 39% had taken advice on their philanthropy.
“Philanthropic services are definitely something that have featured on my radar since I originally sat down to formulate a business plan for the firm last year,” said Ria Bedford, director of North Star Wealth Management.
“I absolutely intend to make philanthropic planning a key subject in a large proportion of the financial review. Many advisers would be surprised at the response they get from clients if they were to open up a conversation on the subject with them.”
(Hugo Greenhalgh Advice Gap on ‘impact investing’ Financial Times 29 April 2016)
There is definitely a business opportunity for professional advisers. The role of Philanthropy Impact is to support advisers as they help their clients achieve their wealth and philanthropic goals.