Many areas of life now see us looking for highly specialist or niche advice. But when is a more holistic approach better? David Pugh, our CEO, shares some thoughts on why an integrated attitude is beneficial when it comes to wealth planning.
We live in an extraordinarily specialist age. My friend is a hospital consultant, and I once made the mistake of introducing him as a specialist in arms. “Upper arms and shoulders,” he corrected me. “I don’t do hands and wrists.” It sounds somewhat bizarre but the fact is, that at the highest level, knowing all there is to know about upper arms and shoulders is a full-time job. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get to grips with hands and wrists too.
You’ve probably guessed that I’m telling you this by way of an analogy, not as a full-length dive into orthopaedics. These days, at the highest level, the world of wealth management is just as complicated – and just as specialised. Of course there are still lots of small advice firms where a handful of practitioners – sometimes literally just a single one – claim to cover the whole waterfront. Sticking with the medical comparison, I suppose these are like small GP practices, and no doubt many of them do a great job. But if you need top-quality advice on a very specific topic – whether it’s tax and trusts, school fees planning, investment management, or even certain needs like mortgages and protection – you’ll probably decide you want to see a specialist. And that’s very often when trouble can start.
Because in the modern world, most of the time, the problem with specialisation is that it comes hand-in-hand with fragmentation. It’s not hard to find a firm that gives great tax advice – but is it equally expert in investment management or succession planning? Or in business protection?
The answer is usually “no” and the result is that you’re left with arguably the toughest part of the whole business, which is ringmastering and co-ordinating a bunch of separate specialists with very little feel for your situation as a whole.
If you’re a client of The Fry Group, you’ll know this is not how we work. We have the full range of skills you need, under one roof, in one team. And perhaps best of all, we manage our client relationships in a way that leaves the ringmastering down to us. It’s not just that our left hand knows what our right hand is doing – our other limbs are all up to speed as well.
I’ll be honest: this integrated approach is good for business. A financial planning client is less likely to go elsewhere for tax advice when they can see they really don’t have to. But I’m also absolutely convinced that what we call our “multi-service” proposition is the best possible way to live up to our core value of delighting our clients – and of achieving our purpose of helping them achieve financial freedom.
In fact, we’ve selected the name Freedom to describe our integrated, holistic client offering, because we don’t believe you can achieve real freedom in your financial life if you’re struggling to keep control over a loose network of separate specialists.
So how do we do it? We work hard to make sure there are no separate silos at The Fry Group. But actually the key answer to delivering an integrated service is simply to think in an integrated way. The reality is that as a consultant becomes more and more focused on the workings of the upper arm and shoulder, they become less and less interested in any other part of the patient’s anatomy. In fact, the patient could come hopping into the consulting room on one leg, and the shoulder specialist might not even notice! That will not happen here. We know that financial freedom needs input from the best specialists, but we also realise that it needs co-ordinating by us, not by you.
And finally, accessing the expertise in our integrated service is very likely to cost you significantly less than buying the same elements separately. So I’ll sum up by saying that in our view, it’s not just a better approach – it’s better-value too.