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Tomorrow’s world

September was a month of exceptionally good weather and an abundance of conferences. It was especially wonderful to visit Perth and Edinburgh bathed in golden sunshine – not a regular exper-ience. It was also great to meet members from across the UK during my round of CEO roadshows.

In addition to these events, we held our autumn area conferences and AGM, all of which attracted record numbers.

There was, however, one conference that delivered some of the most thought provo-king and challenging messages. The Tomo-rrow’s Client confer-ence, which the PFS held in association with Money Market-ing, was designed to get people to consider the world beyond the RDR and we brought together advisers, businessowners, and industry experts. Speakers included Jo Hind of Google, Holly MacKay of Platforum, Adele Gritten of YouGov and Barry Clarke of Future Foundation.

It was particularly refreshing to hear from some new speakers and those representing organi-sations outside financial services.

There was an interesting session from Phil Wickenden, who had undertaken indepth interviews with 100 advisers.

The research unveiled some results that were fairly predic-table, for example, by 2013 over 80 per cent of advisers expected to be holistic financial planners with twothirds of their busi-ness undertaken on a platform.

In contrast, a surp-rise finding was that only 11 per cent expected to lose any clients from the intro-duction of adviser charging. It was no surprise to learn that increased costs and thinner margins were the biggest concern and there was a high level of agreement that technology and paraplanners were where resources were most needed. This had higher priority than recruiting more advisers.

So with technology at the forefront of our thoughts, we were exposed to the world of Google. We all know there has been a digital revolution but what struck me was the level of public engagement. In just 10 years, internet users have risen from 400 million to 1,800 million and 7 per cent of UK GPD is spent online. There were some remarkable facts about financial services internet activity such as 49 per cent of general insurance products are now bought online and 21 million people have researched at least one financial product in the last 12 months. Despite this, financial services companies spent just 16 per cent of their advertising budget online.

The digital revolution is escalating, 25 per cent of people in the UK now have a smart phone and the rapid growth in social networking has exceeded all expectations. And it is not just the young that are part of this revolution. The over60s and especially the retired have the time to research and buy online. These are definitely tomorrow’s clients and to futureproof your business, you need to found it in the digital world.

I will leave you with one final thought. The number of text messages received and sent every day exceeds the total population of the planet. How do you communicate with your clients?

The Tomorrow’s Client conference can be viewed here

Fay Goddard is chief executive of the PFS

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