Re-thinking financial planning : the changing role of the financial planner.
This study which is located in Durban, South Africa examines the life insurance Industry in South Africa, the trends, local and international, and strategic issues and the thinking of the industry leaders that will impact upon current distribution business models. The impact of these on the role of the Financial Planner is highlighted, providing evidence of the international success of alternative models for the distribution of professional financial advice. The literature review in this study suggests that, from international experience, the weakest link in the present distribution chain of life insurance is the Financial Planner because their means of remuneration is currently being subjected to extensive reduction by regulators. As the South African industry transforms as a result of price cutting and regulatory pressures on downscaling of existing commission structures, the Financial Planner will bear the brunt of this resizing to the form of substantial reductions in their earnings, resulting either Financial Planners exiting the industry, or seeking an alternative business model than that of commission remuneration from the sale of life insurance products It is against this backdrop that this submission examines three critical questions: How will the transformation of the South African life insurance industry, changing needs and demands of consumer's impact upon the role of the Financial Planner in the financial planning industry? What are the consumer's experiences, expectations and perceptions of Financial Planners? What must Financial Planners and their representative bodies do in order to ensure the continuity and independence of the role of the Financial Planner in the distribution of professional financial planning advice? These critical questions are investigated using a quantitative research instrument, i.e. a structured questionnaire, the results of which are statistically analysed using the SPSS system. The main findings provide substantial evidence that trends and experiences from the UK and USA will have a similar impact on the South African Financial Planner's future in the present life insurance business model. The predictions, teachings and motivations of relevant authors is for Financial Planners to adopt a holistic expanded business model offering Life Planning to consumers which provides the Financial Planner with an alternative to remaining in the present business model. The study further reveals that consumers attach a high value to the intellectual abilities and to the role the Financial Planner plays in providing them with professional financial advice. It further confirms that without the Financial Planner, life insurance companies have no real link to the consumers of life insurance products because the consumer is dependent upon the Financial Planner for professional financial advice.