There seems to be a deluge of research at the moment looking at whether clients are comfortable with online or remote advice. Not surprising I suppose. If clients are happy with remote advice then that will have a significant impact on how advice businesses develop in the future. For example, it may mean central recruiting rather than in a specific location. Or the possibility of reducing advice charges if operating costs are reduced. It may also improve services.
Quilter, for example are reporting that they were able to hold over 100 training events last year using remote technology, whereas normally they would only have a held a small number of physical training events. I think they are potentially playing catch up. Most adviser training has been done remotely using webinars for many years now.
Quilter have also been talking to their customers about their preferences. Apparently 53% of their clients still preferred face to face advice. But 82% found it easy to use remote software and 80% felt that their advice needs could be met remotely, its just that they would prefer face to face. So, it seems there is still demand for human interaction thank goodness!
Boring Money’s Advice Report 2021 comes to similar conclusions. But, changed when the cost factor was introduced. 29% said they would pay more for face to face advice, whereas 40% said they would accept remote advice in return for a lower fee.
On a similar note, Money Marketing have just published a detailed article looking at the differences between what “advisers” call themselves within the Financial Adviser market. Interestingly, the first point they make is that the term Financial Adviser is not defined in law as you might have thought. Anyone can call themselves a “Financial Adviser” regardless of whether they have any formal qualifications or not. This is giving rise to confusion and in many cases real harm to customers. Especially the way “financial advisers” are now populating the internet and social media platforms as we’ve reported before.
Some firms seem to believe that there is a “big” difference between being called a “Financial Adviser” as opposed to a “Financial Planner”. The argument is that “advisers” are only focussed on a client’s current requirements and are product centred, whereas “planners” are more focussed on the long-term plans of their clients, rather than products.
This is interesting to us.
As Christina Clegg Financial Planning Services, we believe that we fall very firmly in the “planner” camp. All our advice is what we call holistic. By that we mean that we will always look at a client’s long-term plans and we won’t get involved in here and now transactional advice. But, we have no problem calling ourselves Financial Advisers. We don’t think that there’s too much difference between as adviser and a planner.
What we are hung up about however, is our independent status. We think that independence is really important. Most of the big advice firms (the well know names) are not independent, they are restricted. That means that they only offer funds owned and manged by them. We don’t think that this offers the best choice to customers. Interestingly, research has shown that charges between restricted and independent advisers don’t vary much. If anything, restricted advisers have slightly higher charges.
The article suggests that the UK market might benefit from a legal definition of advice, which some countries already have. I think we’d agree with that. Helping customers to better compare services and companies would be a good thing.
If you would like to read about the advantages of the “vertically integrated” adviser model. You might be interested in this article also in Money Marketing which has quite a lot to say. Some things we wouldn’t dare to print.