The 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.
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