When a client of mine visited me may years ago, he picked up a pen and piece of paper to make a note and immediately challenged me about whether I was an independent financial planner or whether I worked for the company whose pen and pad he had picked up?

He was being facetious but he made a very valuable point (for me at least).

How can I claim to be independent but then I hand a client a pen from company A when she signs an application form for company A and all the while pressing on the desk pad from the same company?

Right then and there I cleared my office of anything that had reference to any company that we use – we are independent financial planners and can afford to buy our own stationery and calendars. There is no marketing material from any financial company in our office – they dont pay us to advertise on their behalf and will not compromise our independence either.

I was reminded of this when I saw this sign on the wall outside a financial planning practice in Cape Town…I understand what they mean but does the average client? Are you independent or do you work for Discovery?