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Three quarters of adults have no IFA

More than three quarters of consumers have no financial adviser and 86 per cent of UK adults have no written financial plan for retirement, according to Sun Life Financial of Canada’s Unretirement Index.

The firm surveyed 1,241 adults, following similar studies in America, Canada and Hong Kong, to track workers’ attitudes and expectations about retirement.

The research shows 60 per cent of respondents thought they were better informed and more able to make financial decisions after engaging with an IFA with 40 per cent experiencing improved confidence on financial matters.

One in five people said consulting an IFA made them feel more confident about retirement while 14 per cent said it enabled them to achieve goals they would otherwise not be able to.

Head of marketing Mark Stopard says: “The Unretirement Index has already identified a lack of optimism in Britain. It also shows that the level of optimism in Britain is lagging behind America and Canada. These latest figures highlight the difference independent financial advice can make to long term financial planning and optimism towards retirement.

“Retirement policy is currently very near the top of the political agenda and with proposed changes providing more choice for consumers and advisers, there exists a major opportunity for advisers to capitalise on the increasingly flexible solutions that are available through providing considered advice.

“Consumers, on the other hand, need to seek professional advice to ensure they are making the most of their assets and take advantage of any legislative change from which they may benefit.”


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There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I think that the restoration of public confidence in saving for retirement lies primarily in the hands of the government but so far I don’t see the new government actually doing much about it.

    Auto-enrolment into what is essentially a badly broken pension framework seems to me to be a very poor substitute for dismantling and redesigning from the ground up the framework itself.

    Or am I being too simplistic?

  2. As a matter of interest, I wonder what the corresponding statistics are in respect of people of who’ve entrusted their affairs to a bank adviser?

  3. The term IFA has been denigrated by the regulator over the past 10 years.

    We have been fed regular tales of bad advice and fines yet the good news about successful financial planning never hits the sheets.

    Add to this the disatrous weakening of the IFA message as a esult of the idiocy of de-polarisation and it is no wonder the public is confused and stunned into inactivity.

    Any sound society would encourage freedom of choice yet also point out the clear advantages of independent advice. We suffer from the dual predations of a Government and a Regulator which fails to see or understand such distinctions and whose every move seems designed to further weaken the one area capable of providing the breadth of advice and choice that consumers need and want.

  4. Some very interesting statistics here but what a curious spin Mark Stopard and his chums at Sun Life Financial of Canada have put on it all.

    Clearly, they haven’t really taken much time to look at the underlying numbers. According to the Office for National Statistics, there are 61,792,000 people in the UK. A fifth of them are under 16 so the rest are ‘adults’ – that’s 49,433,600. If a quarter of them (12,358,400) claim to have a relationship with an IFA then the UK’s 25,000 or so IFAs are servicing around 500 customers each. Even if every IFA only ever took 4 weeks of holiday a year, was never ill and worked five full days a week, they’d all have to see at least 2 customers every working day to service that community. More to the point, those customers would only ever receive 4 hours each a year of the IFA’s precious time, assuming an 8 hour working day.

    So, Mr Stopard’s notion that “consumers need to seek professional advice to ensure they are making the most of their assets” doesn’t really add up. The reality is that the IFA community which will shrink even further in the next few years couldn’t possibly service even 20% of the adult population.Even if we ruled out the retired population as not needing any financial advice (which would be wrong) there would be 37 million adults in the UK with varying needs for guidance and advice.

    Julian, your query about the corresponding statistics for ‘people who have entrusted their affairs to a bank adviser’ is probably redundant here. In a random cross section of the UK adult population, a significant number of those people wouldn’t know the difference between the bank guy and the ‘independent’ guy.

    One final point on all of this, if 14 per cent said that consulting an IFA ‘enabled them to achieve goals they would otherwise not be able to’ does that imply that 86% of IFA customers would have been able to achieve their goals without the advice? I think we should be told…

  5. This is depressing.

    At the same time that the State is withdrawing support the adviser population is being killed off.

    Perhaps, with the right incentives, we could create more demand for the services of IFAs…do you think that with for example better technology, use of para planners, basic advice for annuity purchase etc IFAs could build a business model that could profitably service many millions of customers?

    I have seen very little that simply and effectively shows the value of advice – what evidence is there that the industry could use?

  6. “I have seen very little that…shows the value of advice.”

    There, in a nutshell, is your problem. If IFAs were turning in stunning results left, right and centre – everyone would WANT one. Word of mouth between customers would generate demand. But…they don’t want one.

    If the best that can be said for you is “they don’t rip you off as much as the banks” – then you’re in trouble as an industry.

    Hopefully the good IFAs out there ARE doing well – we need (and want) them to survive.

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