Creativity almost always requires a tool to translate our ideas into things. A sculptor uses a chisel and hammer to give their ideas shape in stone. Even something as esoteric as a joik – a tradition of composing ad hoc songs about your surroundings among the Sami people in Northern Scandinavia – employs the vocal chords to vibrate the air into sound.
Website content and quality online tools have become more important as the availability of and need for face-to-face consultants diminishes. By tools I do not mean devices to facilitate quick snacks of digital consumption – there is always another information snippet or rapid fire conversation just a notification away, ready to interrupt your flow. No, I mean tools that enable the creation of better, more joined up financial plans that connect with peoples’ actual lives.
That is not to say that more proactive and bespoke field support does not add tremendous value when delivered well. It does. Also when bespoke, flexible and divorced from product, per se, it can go a long way. Advisers always have, and always will, value providers that consistently demonstrate the commitment so often talked about but seldom acted on. While that will likely never change, advisers recognise the “broker consultant” is now an exception rather than a rule. As such, most today depend less on external, provider-led support, having re-engineered their businesses to be considerably more self-sufficient.
Advisers have largely come to terms with new world realities – provided they have access to:
- A robust, reliable and navigable website, providing the necessary tools and information to allow them and their support staff to do the job themselves.
- Well-trained telephone-based consultants who are able to answer a smaller number of detailed questions on complex cases.
Looking specifically at retirement planning, the tools that have been most relied on in the past 12 months are highlighted in the table below.
Post-Budget though, retirement planning has become more complex. Correspondingly there is the potential for smarter integration between lifetime income and expenditure tools, tax calculators and income target tools. Advisers are far more aware of the spectrum of risks impacting on retirement income provision strategies. As such the importance of these risks has increased but, to date, the availability of quality tools to help navigate the uncertainties has not.
Make no mistake, this scenario represents a huge opportunity.
Phil Wickenden is founder of So Here’s the Plan. firstname.lastname@example.org