What is the biggest change you have seen in the industry since you joined?
Without doubt pension freedoms. The choices that clients have at retirement have evolved transformationally, and great financial advice at retirement has never been more important. Opportunistic activity by some has led to the regulator applying fairly one-dimensional responses to such a complex area. This topic is going in the right direction – but it has some way to go.
What is the investment topic most often brought up by your clients?
Clients are most concerned about macroeconomic trends and how they are already or will be reflected within global markets. Inflation and recession are common topics. Many clients have seen the market correction in the first half of this year reflected in their portfolio values and what has been a period of sustained growth during recent years is currently more challenging. However, as the majority of our clients are invested as part of their long-term financial plan, they understand that there will be fluctuations.
Which piece of regulation – positive or negative – makes the biggest impact on your day-to-day role?
Currently it is the consumer duty. We very much welcome this initiative by the regulator and it rightly puts firms under scrutiny for things such as value for money. As a client-centric business that is actively acquiring too, we have spent some time undertaking a gap analysis of our business and are in the process of finalising our action plan. This is also something we now include in our due diligence of firms being purchased.
What single change would you make to the wealth management industry?
We are facing huge societal challenges – funding long-term care and the pension gap being two examples. Financial advice can play a key role in addressing these challenges so we would work to make it more accessible, delivered with transparent pricing and by a professional advisory population that is as diverse as the clients we wish to serve. These are all key areas of strategic focus at Kingswood.
What advice would you give to someone starting in the industry?
Quite simply, you have a unique opportunity to make such a difference in the lives of your clients, so focus on building the skills to build deep and enduring relationships with them, and you will become an extension of their family. Cherish this.
David Lawrence joined Kingswood Group as chief executive in December 2020. Previously, he was chief commercial officer at Schroders Personal Wealth. He has also worked at Lloyds Banking Group as a strategy, transition and planning director, and at Lloyds Bank Private Banking as commercial director and chief operating officer, UK wealth, and as customer management director, UK and international wealth.
This article first appeared in the September edition of Portfolio Adviser Magazine