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Kim North: A triage service will help the advice gap

Kim North greyThe night after I attended the excellent Money Marketing Awards evening I went to a Foo Fighters gig, where before and after, I was engaged in seven different conversations with friends about financial issues.

A few friends had tried to pay for financial advice but were put off by London-based financial adviser charging costs.

After listening to them, I believe there is a shortage of affordable financial advice.

The FCA’s papers on revamping the pension transfer rules introduce the idea of a triage service. This is an initial conversation, without stepping across the advice boundary by providing generic, balanced information on the merits of pension transfers.

With a backdrop of demand for pension transfers being higher than ever before, hitting a record of £10.6bn in the first quarter of this year according to Office for National Statistics data, I believe the demand for pension transfer advice will increase over the next five years.

Alan Hughes: Triage service will relieve DB transfer pressure

I truly like the idea of advice triage for all financial planning meetings across all product areas, because during the advice process most of the information provided during a client meeting is not regulated activity. The most relevant client questions that fall into the expensive regulated financial advice scope are: “which products or services are suitable for me and who should provide them?”

I’d suggest that all financial advisory firms provide triage guidance when a client first enters the advice process. I know the new single guidance body chaired by Sir Hector Sants should be launched by the year end. However, this will offer a remote offering that will not be, as far as I know, face-to-face.

After years of helping people achieve their life goals and curtailing their financial worries, I know to engage clients nothing works as well as face-to-face advice, which could be through Skype or the like.

Money Marketing readers will know what issues drive people to seek financial advice, but one that is often forgotten is when companies take over or merge with others. We’ve seen Virgin Money being courted by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank Group. Virgin says: “The Virgin Brand’s backbone is its values: providing heartfelt service, being delightfully surprising, red hot and straight up”.

All firms should provide initial triage guidance; to engage the client, nothing works as well as face-to-face advice

Clydesdale says on its website: “Since we opened our doors in 1838, we’ve set out to support the communities in which we live and work. Being close to our customers is at the heart of everything we do, because to care about here means always understanding how to better serve the people who live here”.

If the deal, which is still subject to approval, goes ahead and Virgin clients are dealt with by Clydesdale, many Virgin Money clients will seek financial advice if they should stay with the Clydesdale or move as the brand values are so different.

Never has affordable financial advice been needed so much.

Offered with efficient use of communications, brand values and of course technology, a non-regulated triage service will help the advice gap, which is a good thing for everyone.

Kim North is managing director at Technology & Technical



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There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Unfortunately as an industry we have simply accepted all the regulator throws at us under the concept that it’s “good for clients”, however only recently do people seem to be considering whether it is actually good for clients to have to pay £1,000 + to be able to take make some regular premium savings, or invest a little bit of money.

    I guess it’s because of the strength of the lobbying that goes on, but it’s always struck me as utterly insane that a client can go and borrow money in less than 30 mins, whilst if they want to save money it takes days or weeks and significant fee’s, because the regulatory burden on people advising about saving is immense, whilst lenders have very small burdens by comparison.

    Given that I doubt many people have ever got into financial difficulties by saving, but millions have gotten into difficulty by borrowing this is clearly backwards.

    Yet as an industry we just accept this from the regulator and politicians and make very little differentiation between advice about a £1m DB pension scheme transfer and a client who wants to save £100pm into a stocks and shares ISA. Exactly the same overarching principles apply and although clearly there is a strong regulatory focus on the DB transfer, the basic principles we have to adhere to are identical.

    This is frankly insane..

  2. Game Keeper Turned Poacher 10th July 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Its a good idea kim, however, like many things, it’s not as simple as that…the line between regulated advice and guidance must be trod carefully, people may want to know what products and services are suitable for them however a triage service needs to be pre-advice and used as a filter to ensure the actual service is right ,telling people what might be suitable for them, without having entered into a full fact find, is likely to lead to liability issues.

  3. GUIDANCE (definition) : advice or information aimed at resolving a problem or difficulty, especially as given by someone in authority.

    ADVICE (definition): guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent action.

    Good luck!

  4. “People being put off by the cost of advice”

    A very believable statement and undoubtedly true.
    But it’s very false, the advice can be delivered quite cost effectively and in all honesty a small part of what the client is actually paying for, or buying.

    All of what we charge for is not tangible, FCA, FSCS levies, PI, compliance, time, business costs, the only thing that does become tangible (over time) is the advice
    The very thing most people want to engage in is the advice and the very thing which is probably the cheapest to deliver.
    Kim, the trouble with triage guidance (if you will) leads to the need for a solution/advice at some point so begins the vicious circle
    Clients are not really paying for advice, they are paying for, regulation, other people’s mistakes, insurances, red tape and future risk.

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