It can sometimes be easy to get lost in the doom and gloom of the financial services industry, particularly with the constant change and often negative outlook.
But as we move into March and with the sun shining, I was put into a positive frame of mind when I received the results from the poll we ran with our Bankhall clients on their views on the industry.
The poll found that 86 per cent of financial advisers are more confident about the prospects for their firm compared with a year ago and 71 per cent have a more optimistic outlook for the wider financial services industry.
The research, carried out for Bankhall by NMG Consulting, revealed that advisers’ perception of the RDR has improved from when they first heard about it (when just 38 per cent of respondents were positive) compared with their view of the rules now (60 per cent of respondents are now positive).
Of the respondents that initially had a negative perception of the RDR, 51 per cent are now positive about the impact it could have on them and the industry as a whole.
Furthermore, just 5 per cent of advisers had found that clients had expressed a negative reaction to the introduction of the RDR.
The poll also looked at how the RDR had impacted protection business. In response, 8 per cent of advisers said they had seen an increase while 86 per cent said the new rules had had no impact on the amount of protection business written.
At SBG, our experience when speaking to advisers mirrors the poll’s findings – that confidence within the profession is growing and the RDR has not negatively affected the consumer view.
Let’s hope this is a turning point for our profession and that we can start to build on firm foundations to drive forward into a more robust and sustainable industry.
This is also great news for our newer advisers coming into the industry. At the Financial Adviser School, where we have 125 students studying to become financial advisers, with a further 30 scheduled to join the school next month, we are keenly aware of industry sentiment.
We feel it is critical that these recruits focus on developing their skills, knowledge and qualifications to be able to serve those customers who are going to require financial advice both now and in the future.
It has been a long-held view that as an industry we are struggling to develop the next generation of financial advisers. This is often blamed on the RDR and all the changes that advisers are forced to make, which can lead to them becoming too internally focused on business models and processes.
Issues with long-term confidence and succession planning have stunted the flow of new advisers joining practices and working on future plans.
It will be critical that advisers look to the future in order to attract, encourage, coach and develop the next generation of advisers.
We see many high-calibre students who are at the beginning of their careers and also career changers. These students are eager to move into financial services and are positive about the future and how they can add value to their customers.
So I welcome the feedback from the poll. It certainly demonstrates to me how much confidence advisers have about the future and the value which they continue to bring to their customers.
Lisa Winnard is HR director at Sesame Bankhall Group