Finance Awards 2021

33 | Finance Awards 2021 Lincolnshire based Steve Conley established the Academy of Life Planning (AoLP) in 2012 as a financial planning company, and it became a non-intermediating financial planning company two years later. An intermediary sells products. Steve’s view is that selling products muddies the client relationship for financial planners as it creates a product bias. He says that product sales paying planners sees products often included in financial plans where better solutions exist. For example, starting an SME as a side- hustle or main hustle, he believes is a better way to create wealth for generations X, Y, Z. Boomers enjoyed jobs for life and early retirements with generous pensions, while younger generations face a long future of uncertainty and unpredictability. Conley says, “Young workers need plans that create wealth, not wealth products. They need SME business plans, and that’s what we deliver. We call the result your Game Plan.” He also says that financial planners should plan the client before they plan the money. The outcome is a life plan, a happier life, and is far more trustworthy and future-ready. AoLP always engaged with individuals, couples and SMEs face-to-face and in groups at events – that was until 2020 when the pandemic hit. As clients locked down, the business was moved online. A channel was opened to start showing other financial planners how to be non- intermediating financial planners. There is great demand for impartial, dependable life and money planners in the global health and economic emergency. In under two years, the SME had grown to a network of over 50 planners. Each has completed or are completing the Game Plan accreditation over five continents. They have hundreds of subscribers and thousands of followers on social media. Conley added, “We are an SME that helps to build SMEs, that help to develop even more SMEs – using SME planning to build back better in the great reset of the post-COVID global economy.” Nine in ten of AoLP’s clients are aspiring Best Financial Adviser Support Network 2021 & Award for Outstanding Contribution to Finance 2021 intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs building SMEs, with one in ten retired boomers wanting a purposeful happier retirement, and creating a lasting legacy. Financial intermediaries personalise recommendations with their ‘done for you’ service. Intermediation is done one-to-one and is therefore expensive and restricted. It disintermediates 95% of the population, who can’t afford it. Products are a commodity, and consumers can buy low-cost, well-diversified investments safely online from direct-to-consumer platforms. Non-intermediating financial planning is generic advice and financial education, ‘done with you’ and ‘done by you’. NIFPs work online one- to-one, offering masterclasses and subscription services. Instead of exchanging their time for money, they exchange their know-how for money using technology. Applications such as HapNav – AoLP’s happiness navigator – at just £7 per month is affordable for everyone. The Academy has just plugged the advice gap. Conley said, “When we build an SME, we consider what you are good at, what you love, what the world needs, and what you get paid for – In Japan, this is called your ‘ikigai’. It’s all about balance in mind, body, heart, and spirit. The endearing SMEs are built for rapid growth, big contribution to society, and low risk of failure.” Being a growing network of non-intermediating financial planners, the Academy’s rapid growth means it is now hiring staff. In new recruits, it simply wants to be their ikigai. And the most important skills for success in financial markets are conscience, passion, discipline, and vision. The Academy’s team of network members and staff all pulling in the same direction contributes to its success. However, the aforementioned skills are unfortunately in short supply. According to the world’s largest PR company, the biggest challenge for the financial services industry is the steep decline in trust since the pandemic against a backdrop of increasing trust in SMEs. Behind the slogans on lobby walls lies a myriad of broken promises. Credit facilities refused or called in, interest rate rises, promises not to reflect payment breaks in credit history ignored, customer service levels failing, financial scams rising. What the public needs is financial experts on their side, readily accessible and affordable online. A financial bodyguard, if you will. Where better to look than the Academy of Life Planning? Looking towards the future, the Academy plans to carry on expanding the planner network and to invest in improving its services. For example, it plans to integrate HapNav with open banking services at the beginning of this year, so that the cashflow forecasts will be automatically updated with saving balances. As the first network of non-intermediating financial planners, it is the torch-bearer for a global movement. Company: The Academy of Life Planning Contact: Steve Conley Email: Website: Oct21777 The Academy of Life Planning