It is worth remembering that while aspects of financial services are international, some parts are very domestically oriented which is the case for much of retail financial services. What happens next is that advisers, discretionary fund managers and domestic retail fund groups will continue to compete hammer and tongs with each other in what is the largest individual country market in Europe.
We think that, markets aside, the retail investment industry will return to business as usual while we wait to see how the devolution from Europe progresses. We have shared comments below to provoke thought but we believe that focus will return shortly to pensions and digital engagement – customer needs that we can control better than the markets.
a) UK regulation continues largely in its current direction
b) Uncertainty may continue to weigh on markets and asset gathering companies through the two plus years to secession and beyond. Long term – who knows
c) Scottish independence is back on the agenda with implications for Scottish financial services companies. Brass plaques on the move? Scotland might stay in the EU.
Conversely, what are the implications for UK companies operating internationally?
a) Some areas will be difficult to compete in without the benefit of passporting
b) In areas where we continue to have competitive advantage, we will export those products and services to the EU subject to their rules. Mifid II will still be our headache… but we can deal with that
c) Some opportunities for international expansion might have to be rethought. It would be nice to take elements of our sophisticated platform market beyond UK borders.
Regardless of possible changes to pension tax relief, flows will continue to pension wrappers – currently 55 per cent of assets under administration according to our latest Adviser Platform Guide, published last week which is up from 33 per cent before the pension freedoms. This trend looks set to continue as pension assets stay on platforms through retirement. The pension freedoms have been a boon for advisers – retirement funding advice is now neck and neck with investment advice in the services they most often deliver (Source: Platforum Retirement Funding Guide, June 2016.)
Where we think innovation is needed is in the ways that firms engage with customers and help them manage their investments to and through retirement.
Digital engagement is transforming the way companies connect with customers and the ways that consumers interact with their finances. At our D2C + Digital Conference we will be the first post-Brexit event to cover this.
We particularly look forward to hearing from Ash Roots at Direct Line, a business that has undergone a radical digital transformation harnessing digital technologies to place more emphasis on the customer experience. As a result, its net promoter score has increased, complaints have declined and customer retention has improved. Things that all companies need to master regardless of the political machinations happening around them.
Heather Hopkins is director of research at Platforum