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Editor’s Column: Why putting cash before clients is a mistake

I was mightily impressed this week by the words from the expanding senior team at Glasgow-based holistic Financial Planning firm Murphy Wealth.

Their words reminded me once again that while there are many ways to run a Financial Planning business, focusing entirely on acquiring funds under management – with little regard to client happiness and wellbeing – is not one of them.

Their firm, a lifestyle planning firm and therefore on the ‘holistic’ wing of the Financial Planning profession, announced a couple of senior appointments this week as it plans to expand this particular approach.

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It promoted John Moran to be its new executive chair and Neil Bage to the new role of chief behavioural officer. I do not know many Financial Planning firms with CBOs yet but it could well be the coming trend. It’s perhaps best seen as an extended COO with some behavioural science included.

Mr Moran himself is a Chartered Accountant and joined Murphy as commercial director in February last year. In his new role, he will be responsible for “shaping the future” of the business. He will run the board and have responsibility for commercial and operational strategy.

He said: “I’ve been working part-time with Adrian and the team at Murphy Wealth for about a year now, helping them with their new-business strategy and future plans. In that time, it’s become clear to me that this is a business with a different approach to Financial Planning.

“It is focused on the individual rather than products, which means Murphy Wealth is devoted to implementing tailored financial life plans that aim to improve its clients’ general wellbeing and make sure they can afford to lead the contented lifestyle they had planned, now and in the future. This is a Financial Planning and advice business that is clearly different from other firms that often seem to be more focused on how much money they can make from their clients’ investments rather than helping them find happiness.”

These words struck a chord with me and I’m sure many Financial Planners.

Financial Planning has never been about clients accumulating assets to me, it’s always been about the long term happiness of clients, whatever that may be.

Many clients think a £100,000 income a year would buy a life of luxury, for others it’s not enough to afford the lifestyle they want (in more normal times). It’s not about the cash it’s about the client having “enough” to achieve happiness and contentment, leading a life without worry (or too much of it).

Of course some will see this as “airy-fairy” but I applaud Murphy’s different strategy and other Financial Planning firms who adopt a similar client-centric approach. It may not be for everyone but I believe they are on to something.

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Kevin O’Donnell is editor of Financial Planning Today and a financial journalist with 30 years experience.  This topical comment on the Financial Planning news appears most weeks. Follow @FPT_Kevin 


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