Free advice on offer as Financial Planning Week launches

The sixth annual Financial Planning Week launched on Sunday, with many financial advice firms offering free advice and surgeries.

Financial Planning Week, an initiative from the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP), aims to make consumers more aware of the importance of sound financial planning. As part of the week’s activities, advisers are encouraged to offer free advice sessions and surgeries, to help consumers get on the right track.

Some commentators have said that this year’s Financial Planning Week is more important than ever, as the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) in January made advice less affordable for many. As a result of the review, advisers who previously earned commission on unregulated retail investment products now have to charge fees instead. This week, advisers will be hoping to get across the message that financial advice can still be valuable for those making important financial decisions.

In a broader sense, this week is about encouraging all consumers to take control of their finances, and plan for the long as well as the short term. Julie Hutchinson of Standard Life said:

“Financial Planning Week is a great reminder of the importance of planning for the future. When we think about money and planning we often feel anxious. But if we regularly save and review our finances every month, we feel more in control and calmer overall, and we think more about our family and loved ones.”

Steve Gazzard, chief executive of the IFP, has used the week to emphasise the importance of good financial education. This year the government introduced financial education to the national curriculum for pupils in secondary schools, but Gazzard argues that it should take place from an even younger age. Speaking at the launch of Financial Planning Week, he said:

“It is clear that there is a huge job to do in education to ensure children have the right attitudes growing up, and that process should clearly be starting, not at the age of 11 or 12, but from four or five onwards,”

He added:

“The UK has a major financial capability gap and the IFP will do everything it can to support financial education from a young age.”