Unbiased.co.uk media awards 2013 and adviser support

Unbiased.co.uk, formerly ‘IFA Promotions’, the leading promotional body for financial advisers, held its ninth annual media awards ceremony last night. This annual event celebrates the work of independent and whole of market financial advisers who give their time to promote the benefits of seeing financial advice in the media.

Unbiased.co.uk is an important organisation in retail financial services. With a track record that dates back to the heady days of the Financial Services Act, it has a phenomenal database aimed at matching people who need financial advice to the right adviser. In fact according to last night’s speakers their activity now generates an amazing 500,000 client leads per year to financial advisers!

For the second year running there was a category for best ‘Responsible Investment Adviser’, which this year was sponsored by Alliance Trust, the proud new home of the former Aviva SRI fund management team.

In common with last year this year’s RI adviser winners were Ruth Whitehead (Ruth Whitehead Associates), Olivia Bowen (GAEIA Partnership) who were commended for their work promoting SRI in the media.  Congratulations to Ruth and Olivia…. and also to all the other winners!

Also in attendance this year (as sponsor of the ‘Young IFA of the Year’ award) was Michelle Hoskin of Standards International.  Michelle works tirelessly and with unparalleled enthusiasm and knowledge, offering a range of support services and training to help steer UK financial advisers towards ever higher business standards – and for some, the achievement of the international best practice ‘Adviser ISO’ standard.

In a year when most advisers are busy dealing with a range of challenges – from new ones – such as getting used to what the post RDR world looks and feels like,  to old ones – including offering investment advice in difficult times, bodies such as these are likely to be increasingly valuable to advisers.

The reason, in my view, is simple.  Financial advisers are often better at advising clients than they are at other aspects of business (the clue is in the name!).   Areas such as developing leads, or better business strategies, can therefore be sidelined – often at a cost.  As such, timely help can be useful or on occasions even essential.

I am not however totally ‘unbiased’ when it comes to these companies.  Quite aside from agreeing with their ethos and respecting their methods, both are relevant to SRI and ethical investment in their own way. Unbiased.co.uk offers investors the opportunity to select an adviser who has stated their willingness to advise on this area – and advising on sustainable and responsible investment forms part of the adviser ISO that Standards International focus their work on.

As a passionate believer in the need to integrate the sustainability agenda into investment decisions (as well as the need for people to reflect their personal interests in how they invest),  I see both of these businesses as being beneficial and potentially complimentary to the SRI community.  Both are helping to grow and improve the financial advisory market, which is a good thing.

As such I look forward to many more awards ceremonies and training sessions over the coming years… and also of course wish the winners every success!

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