James Moore: The golfer-turned-financial adviser in a drive to clean up his industry's act
This is not a self-interest campaign. It is about facing the issues the industry has created
Trust in financial services would appear to be something of an oxymoron. After a string of scandals, not to mention a devastating financial crisis, the industry sits at a particularly low ebb. But a Nottingham financial adviser who started life as a golf pro thinks he can change that.
Shane Mullins is rather unusual in his profession. He admits that he works in an industry that has suffered from a number of largely self-inflicted wounds.
"Really, there has been far too much innovation in product, far too little in service," he says of the industry he has worked in for more than 20 years. "If you reward the wrong type of behaviour, then that's what you'll get it. Rewards are a big part of the problem. In a classic Plc structure, your job is balancing all stakeholders and that includes your customers.
"But in a study of 200 leading ceos, only 25 per cent cited the consumer as key. To my mind, a business either makes a product or provides a service for consumers. Unfortunately, we have seen far too many ceos managing share-option schemes and not managing in the interests of clients. These are some of the issues we need to tackle."
Heady stuff from a representative of an industry that has all too often attacked the media for highlighting its problems rather than addressing them even as the fines and opprobrium from regulators and the public have rained down on it.
Mr Mullins says it is this, among other things, he wants to change. He says he was inspired by a book written by Jack Bogle, a luminary of the US mutual fund industry, called Enough, which has some hard words for the industry. Bogle ruminates on greed, excess and other failings he says combined to produce the economic crisis that remains with us. He argues for a return to what he argues were 18th-century values: stewardship, integrity, leadership, character.
Says Mr Mullins: "In an industry that has such capacity to do very great good and very great evil, somebody's got to do something to make sure the first one dominates. I have spoken to lots of people, to heavy-duty business people, who say this is timely, that it is so important. I'm not doing it for myself. I'm doing it because if you look at the current situation, somebody had to act."
Mr Mullins himself runs Fiscal Engineers, an advisory business. It is what many would argue is the model for an adviser – it doesn't take commission, relying instead on its clients paying fees that are agreed upfront.
It operates at the upper end of the market, employing a chartered accountant and three chartered financial planners. As such, those lower down the food chain might be a little wary. The involvement of the Institute of Financial Planning, a trade body that some advisers see as slightly pious, may not help.
But Mr Mullins is unapologetic: "Look, this is not a self-interest campaign. It is about facing the issues the industry has created. We are engaging with academics, for example, and not from a purely commercial standpoint. This is an industry that is founded on its promise, and what consumers need is straight dealing so that promise can be fulfilled."
Those academics would be from the Nottingham University Business School, whose Financial Services Forum has produced a Trust index that hasn't made happy reading for the industry.
Mr Mullins is now banging the drum, seeking converts and, crucially, financial backers with the power to push his campaign into the mainstream of debate.
It's a big ask. Previous industry-led initiatives have floundered on the rocks of apathy or an unwillingness to do much more than talk. At the same time, the big players are very much focused on navel-gazing. Few are even willing to admit they have a problem.
Mr Mullins remains unbowed. He left school to become a golf pro but admits he wasn't good enough to become even a journeyman on the European tour (although he has beaten a one-time member of it). A brief, and unhappy, stint in the building trade followed before he followed his brother into financial services.
Can he convince his reluctant fellows? He aims to try: "I can't change the past but what we can do is shape a different future. There will be rogue elements in anything but what I really want to see is a humble industry response to facing the issues we have created. That's our challenge: to arrest the trust deficit that exists with consumers."
- 1 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 2 How to turn off/stop 'seen by' on Facebook: Disable it to make your chats seem less passive aggressive
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 'We're not heroes, just tourists': Swedish police officers on holiday stop vicious assault on New York subway
- 5 Buckingham Palace guard who attacked passers-by in 'most most violent piece of CCTV footage' police officer had seen walks free
Top 20 misconceptions people believe are true
Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
'We're not heroes, just tourists': Swedish police officers on holiday stop vicious assault on New York subway
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
iJobs Money & Business
£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...
£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...