For any long-term business or project to work, there must be a healthy dose of passion.
After all, business ventures will take years of blood, sweat and tears, and it helps if there is considerable emotional investment in the project to propel it forward.
Let’s take, as an example, The Most Trusted Adviser Network, which was established in August 2014 by the directors of the Beddoes Institute, doctors Adam Tucker and Rebecca Sheils.
Tucker is a medical practitioner who still sees patients regularly and Sheils is a registered psychologist with a PhD in clinical psychology.
What have those fields got to do with financial advice? Quite a lot as it turns out.
Both Sheils and Tucker understand how to care for others’ mental and physical wellbeing, but it was only when Tucker broke his back that he realised how vulnerable we all are.
“After that happened, I was unable to work for a patch and it was very difficult, as I didn’t have insurance coverage,” Tucker says. “I remember coming home quite late at night, it was 11pm, and seeing all of these bills and legal letters piling up in my letterbox.”
The shock of the bills, and Tucker’s uncertainty over whom to turn to for advice, made him realise that there were different kinds of unwell.
“As a doctor, I thought of suffering solely in the physical sense, of alleviating suffering and saving people’s lives,” he explains. “Then I realised that there was another kind of suffering, and these bills were causing me more anguish than the actual injury to my back.
“I thought, ‘Where do people go for good advice in these situations?’ ”
The experience provided the personal impetus for creating the trusted adviser network, a highly selective list that Tucker and Sheils’ Beddoes has audited.
“We wanted to list the best advisers and then for consumers to be able to easily find them,” he says. “That was the reason we started all those years ago.”
Advisers can apply to join the network, but entry is far from automatic.
The institute requires advisers to send their entire list of clients from the last 12 months, who are then contacted to provide feedback on their experience. A report is compiled as feedback for the adviser. If the feedback is of a high enough standard, and the adviser meets educational and proficiency requirements, they’re admitted into the network.
Tucker has assessed thousands of planners over the last four years, and says the standard has been rising continuously.
“I think it is because in order to succeed in today’s industry, you really need to excel on a number of fronts,” Tucker says. “Because of the numerous structural and regulatory changes, planners really need to go above and beyond to stand out.
“They need to be exceedingly driven and organised, and this has made the best of the best get even better. There are some planners who are leaving the industry, but those who are staying are really excelling.”
Tucker is unequivocally positive about the future of the industry and thinks robo-advice is nothing for planners to fear.
“Robo-advice is standardised, its expression is so limited,” Tucker says. “An adviser is essentially helping someone go from A to B, but there are many different ways of doing that.
“I have seen some gorgeous businesses and inspiring people, all of whom have a kaleidoscope of business goals and ambitions, and advice comes in all shapes and colours.
Tucker also thinks the entire industry has been unfairly cast in a negative light by scandals over the years.
“We’ve lost the notion that advisers are just people, too,” he says. “The media are hitting advisers so hard at the moment. [There are about] 25,000 advisers in the country, who are often employing people in small businesses, so you’re looking at a 70,000 to 100,000-strong workforce.
“I think those facts are forgotten sometimes.”