"The point, as always, is that if you have plenty of strings to your bow, then a replacement can always be found if one of those strings does ‘ping’ mid-song."
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. But, wait a minute, just how comfortable are you? What would it take to get you to move? Are you so comfortable that it would only take a huge amount of disruption to get you to stand up and go and find somewhere else to sit? Perhaps only then would you realise that the place where you thought you were most comfortable was actually not the best place for you.
If that’s truly the case, then let’s welcome the rocket that’s been placed beneath you because you’re going sit in the right place, plus you have the knowledge to be able to make that move again, without thinking it’s going to be a very bad decision. Here endeth that laboured metaphor.
I say this however because it’s true of all us – in both a personal and business situation – that we work towards a place in our lives where we feel comfortable, and then the tendency or inclination is to stay where we are and continue along the same path with little (if any) variation. In this position, routine is not just relied upon but it’s the be all and end all – nothing changes because we don’t wish for it to change and it will only be when we’re confronted by major threats to that position that we’ll look elsewhere.
Some of us will actually get so comfortable with where we’re at, that we’ll be able to eke out the same situation for a very long time. Perhaps, in a business sense, we’ll be able to take it all the way through to retirement, at which point you may well look back and wish you’d been challenged more or wish you’d stepped outside that comfort zone because, looking around you at those who were, you start to see just what could have been achieved if you’d not been so inclined to business conservatism.
Over the months and years of your existence as an adviser, you’ll read many, many articles challenging you to develop your proposition to meet threats to your business. Many of them you may not consider threats at all – until perhaps they take away the vast majority of your business – but others will seem like pivotal moments that unless you react in the right way, could do immeasurable damage to you. Some of these will be completely out of your control – take the Credit Crunch, for instance – others will be about the way you’ve run your business and therefore perhaps could have been averted. Each, however, will represent an opportunity to move on and develop an offering that is stronger and far more able to protect itself against such threats.
One way you can of course make your business that much more impregnable to negative forces is via diversification. Clearly, being a specialist in a certain area of financial advice is a positive but what happens if the market turns against you – what, for example, would be the point of being an endowment mortgage specialist in today’s marketplace? The fact is you can still be that specialist, but you might not have a business, or a market, to be able to practise that specialism in.
Think about the way the mortgage market is shifting at present. A few years ago, you might have considered yourself a buy-to-let specialist – many still are – but the greater raft of regulatory change placed upon that sector has undoubtedly resulted in changes. The level of purchase activity continues to slow, and while the remortgage market has held up well – indeed, you might say it has saved the day – will this always continue? Now, if you’re an all-rounder, this drop in activity might not be as concerning; after all, you have other types of clients who fill any void but who’s to say how these might develop and change. Might they be the next to be tackled by the Government or regulators? Might they suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous economic fortune? Might they be subject to significant post-Brexit fallout? If so, what then?
The point, as always, is that if you have plenty of strings to your bow, then a replacement can always be found if one of those strings does ‘ping’ mid-song. Those advisers who may be reviewing the current state of their buy-to-let advice activity, for instance, might now believe this is the time to move out of such a comfort zone, because the comfort just isn’t there anymore. So, where to?
Well, it’s clear that an area like later life advice could well offer you the opportunity you’re looking for. But, what do you know about later life lending, equity release, and all the auxiliary products that come with it? Perhaps not a lot, but think back to when you first began looking at buy-to-let or expat mortgages or any other sector you were initially unfamiliar with. It clearly took time to grow knowledgeable about those sectors, but I’d suggest you got there quite quickly, and now with years of experience you’ll know you have transferable skills, and we’re not talking about moving from mortgage advice to nuclear physicist.
So, if you are feeling a drag in certain sectors, and therefore, certain income drivers then the fact is that the sooner you make that move away from what’s comfortable to what is a necessity, the better. The demographic drivers in the UK make later life advice a compelling sector to be active in, plus with businesses like our own providing events and a range of support to smooth your path into the sector, to help find clients, and begin advising, you are very well catered for.
If you sit too long in a position which feels comfortable, but is under threat, then you’ll soon find that the level of comfort diminishes rapidly. Now is definitely the time to make your moves, and one would suggest that the later life sector should be your first port of call.