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The number of consumers who are financially ill-prepared for the future is growing. Initiatives such as decision trees have done nothing to stop this downward spiral in financial self-provision. It is clear from research that most consumers have little inclination to seek out financial information off their own back.

But when they do want help, what they would value is financial advice they can trust. This would involve ready access to personal financial information in the format that they require, alongside face-to-face interaction in surroundings where they feel safe and comfortable but where they do not feel pressured to buy – such as the workplace.

With the charging constraints, providers and intermediaries need to come up with mass financial advice to reduce the costs of providing advice.

One of the most basic things is ensure that consumers are able to understand what they are being told by excluding jargon from discussions and literature. The language used is often confusing. For some, this will require a fundamental rethink. Practise new approaches on friends and family. If they appear uninterested or lost, it is likely that a room full of strangers will be too.

Worksite marketing can benefit all concerned. Employ-ees can get a great deal in free, straightforward information and advice and access to discounts. Apart from a sense of safety in numbers, they can get a feeling of comfort by working with their employer and a greater sense of involvement in their company.

Employers have access to an outsourced ready-made solution at no cost to the company, resulting in an improved working environment and better employee relations through enhanced benefit pack- ages and improved incentive schemes. It also forms part of a more attractive package for new recruits.

For IFAs, this approach can be cost-effective and provide easy access to a large number of potential long-term customers.

In the US, worksite marketing has really taken off, especially for healthcare insurance. In the UK, product providers such as Legal & General have already made some significant inroads.

But it would be wise not to think of it as a panacea. It is important to outline a number of pitfalls which IFAs must be aware of and suggest some things to improve the chance of success.

The first hurdle IFAs face is the apathy towards financial products. In the vast majority of cases, they will not be able to overcome this. A general presentation to a hall full of people will, on its own, stimulate little interest.

Intermediaries will need to capitalise on any interest with follow-up meetings, probably out of office hours. Success boils down to the right level of quality face-to-face advice with individuals.

But before IFAs get a chance to make their presentation, there are important preliminary investigations to be made.

Which companies should be targeted? Some will be harder to approach than others. Intermediaries need to be able to sell the idea of employees taking time out of their working hours to listen.

This is much more difficult in some environments – ones with large mobile workforces, 24-hour factories and call centres, where most employees will be on relatively low incomes anyway. These companies are difficult, so unless a compelling argument can be made, intermediaries should focus their efforts on the more accessible markets.

Once targets have been identified, you need to make an assessment of the company. For instance, do the general workers resent the management? This friction would contribute to suspicion of your presentation. False starts can be minimised by carefully assessing the personality of a company.

Another thing to look out for is companies which are heavy internet users and will be comfortable getting sales and follow-up information through this medium.

Once the targets have been approached, IFAs need to put forward persuasive arguments to employers on softer issues such as emp-loyee welfare and building goodwill. You should also reassure employers there will be no sales pressure.

For employees, trust is a major consideration. IFAs will have to overcome concerns over confidentiality. Employ-ees will be reassured that IFAs will not share personal information with employees or employers.

But the process of identifying a target, making a good presentation and winning customers from a large pool of people is only the start.Intermediaries must be able to provide follow-up information when and how customers want it. It is important to offer multiple communication channels cost-effectively. This might be internet access to higher-tech people and paper documentation or speedy access to advice by freephone for others.


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