Many in the mortgage sector have been focusing on the mortgage market review and have not really considered the impact of the retail distribution review if they do not have pension and investment permissions. What they will not be able to avoid is the cultural shift that will be required in the UK for both the consumer and the financial services industry as a result of the RDR implementation. Planning time will be limited as it now appears that implementation of the MMR and RDR will be similar. Do not think any longer that if you are not an IFA it will not affect you. It will and you need to prepare.
In normal circumstances, I would be in danger of sounding patronising by listing the must-ask questions but I continue without embarrassment as I know many IFAs simply have not answered some or all of the following.
Do you have a clear plan and strategy for your business? Have you asked yourself the marketing myopia question of what is it I do? Are you constrained by pre-concep-tions, myths or legacy language?
Do your business and business plan and structure focus on the end client needs? If they do not, can I suggest an alternative career?
Do you feel the only way to look after your clients’ needs is to be knowledgeable and qualified in everything?
PricewaterhouseCoopers research from last year suggests that 65 per cent of consumers are prepared to pay if they feel they are getting advice from a specialist. At Personal Touch, we often use the analogy of a hospital. If you have a brain tumour, would you be happier to be dealt with by a GP or a neurosurgeon? This is possibly one of the biggest challenges and I will discuss the solution in my next article.
Have you challenged your own business model? Is it necessary to go it alone or should you work with others and gain efficiencies, support and education? And before some of you start getting hot and sweaty, I do not necessarily mean join a network.
Does your plan clearly set out how you are using technology or will use technology in future to ensure a better customer experience, create a compliance audit trail, reduce duplication and costs and work with your existing clients to build a multi-product relationship?
Finally, and on a positive note, there are a lot fewer of us in the financial services industry now compared with three years ago but I believe the consumer need for advice is probably as great as it has ever been. Our industry has moved from a scary place of mass misselling scandals to one of the most regulated. The opportunity is huge and we must accept the challenges and embrace them to ensure the intermediary sector continues to be seen as the only real quality advice access route for the consumer.
Dev Malle is sales and marketing director at Personal Touch Financial Services