I do not like cats.
They seek attention or ignore it, but on their own terms. They return home to be fed, and perhaps to catch up on sleep in the warm. They do not come when called. They come and go at all times of day and night, and just when it pleases them. And they make me sneeze.
The cat, as one writer observed, is domestic only as far as it suits its own ends.
I was told that setting up a trade association exclusively for independent advisers would be a nightmare. “Like herding cats.” they said.
Which set me thinking. Perhaps the best known saying is that “dogs have masters while cats have staff”. Searching for other pertinent quotes, I came across the observation that “you can’t own a cat; the best you can do is be partners.”
Yet the more I thought about it, the more I had to agree that independent advisers are indeed cats. Moreover this is a positive attribute to be celebrated, not regretted. If IFA Centre is to be an effective trade association, I will need to be a successful cat herder, however difficult my detractors said this would be.
Roll Over, Rover
Product providers would much rather we were dogs: trained to use their products, dependent on them to be fed with money, sitting nicely to ask for free training.
Large firms would much rather we were dogs. Obedient when using their in-house funds. Unquestioningly loyal to the masters’ instructions. Drooling gently at the thought of sales-related bonus schemes.
But the vast majority of advisers I have met over the years set up their own firms because they actually want to be independent, in the broadest sense of the word.
They want greater autonomy over their work, making more time for the things that matter most to them. They want to choose the clients they work with, and how they work with them. They want to deliver more personal and tailored services than larger firms typically provide.
And yes, these advisers also want to be independent, in the regulatory sense of the word.
They want to be free to recommend the products and services that they believe are most suited to the need of each individual client, instead of using best buy lists and panels distributed from head office. They want to be free to think their own thoughts, to develop their own ideas about the best way for their own clients to manage their finances.
Being a cat can be an adviser’s curse, because individual IFAs lose bargaining power and collective voice. But the very fact that we do not have masters, that we can’t be owned, is a blessing for advisers, and for our clients too. This is why independent advisers are worth defending, supporting and speaking up for, giving them the collective voice and power that they lack as individuals.
Anyway, as another writer wisely observed “women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”
Incidentally, for a study in cat-herding : www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_MaJDK3VNE
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