It was always inevitable that one of the outcomes of the RDR would be a move away from advice as some customers decided to go it alone.
From an Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by The Platforum this month, we see that there are 13.8 million people in Britain who hold a risk-based investment and, of these, just 1.8 million delegate absolutely everything to an adviser.
Of the 8.6 million who hold some direct investments and who also seek occasional advice, there is much demand for guidance, pointers and validation.
Every year we run a technology showcase, looking at how digital developments are working in tandem, with behavioural shifts to offer up improved propositions to customers.
This year, guidance is firmly on the agenda.
The most cursory of glances reveals more activity than ever as providers respond to these changes and support the investor’s journey.
Aegon’s iPad-friendly Retiready service guides less confident savers through the retirement savings process; Fidelity’s People Like Me tools show investors which funds those in a similar age and wealth bracket have bought; Momentum has recently bought YourWealth, a financial planning hub which accommodates advised and direct relationship for the user; and WealthHorizon has announced the launch of a service that provides guided online advice powered by Parmenion.
This is not to mention the advised propositions looking to improve the way that they present to clients – Transact has recently taken a 15 per cent stake in Sprint Enterprize Technology who presented at last year’s event.
Buy lists, the old-fashioned first move towards guidance, continue to dominate flows in the direct channel with the recommended fund universe being whittled down to fewer than 400 across all the direct platforms’ lists.
On average, a platform user will find themselves looking at a list of 87 funds, with manylooking for help to pare this down further.
As we wait for the FCA’s paper on guidance, reportedly being released at the end of June, there is a real thirst for clarity on what is and is not permissible.
The tools and technology are there to support what could and should be a better customer experience for those many long-term savers, languishing in arguably inappropriate cash products because they are not comfortable enough to stick a toe in the investment markets.
I hope we see some bold thinking from the FCA in response to the undeniable Advice Gap which has been created.
I just wonder if this will be one of those instances when the broader regulatory umbrella that is Mifid rains on the idiosyncratic commission-free UK parade.
Join us at this year’s Top Gear event for demos and discussion, thoughts from 1st Software founder Mik Cons, some mystery guests introduced by Ian McKenna, ideas on digital marketing from agency FreshMinds and some demos of how to approach guidance and simplified advice.
The event agenda can be seen at www.theplatforum.com/top-gear-iii
Jeremy Fawcett is head of direct at The Platforum
To book a delegate place: https://www.eventsforce.net/centaur/635/register
This Platforum’s Technology Showcase 2014
When: 18th June 2014
Where: Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster
Technology demos to include:
- InTune Investor
- Moody’s Analytics
- CTC Software
- DB Corporate Social Platforms
- VSP (who are working with Google Glass)