Sarah King and Alex Oliver write:
The Futures Company spoke at two financial advisors’ conferences this month during the snowy weather.
At the IEA/Marketforce conference on the Future of Distribution in Financial Services, suited (and wellington booted) financial advice businesses met to discuss the effects of the Retail Distribution Review. The intention of the review is to bring about real change so that (in the words of the FSA) ‘more consumers buy what they need and have confidence in the products they hold and in the advice they take’. From our consumer work we continue to hear resoundingly that trust in the industry is low and so there is a real opportunity to build bridges and reconnect. But some speakers were frustrated by the lack of regulatory guidance around the concept of simplified advice and it didn’t look as if much of that was going to be on offer. As usual, the conversation focussed on that part of the market that can afford to pay for advice. There was some consensus too on the likely shape of the market with consolidation, and little apparent dismay from those present that a proportion, estimated at around 10%, will fall by the wayside.
Similarly, at Owen James’ Meeting of Minds CEO Forum, some discussion was focused on the challenge of meeting clients’ needs in an environment heavily constrained by regulatory compliance obligations. Financial advice businesses felt that too many limits were being placed on their autonomy in communicating with their clients in ways which truly added value. But some voices argued that there could be more opportunities to lead rather than follow the regulator – applying lessons from regulation in other industries. And indeed opportunities to further innovate in communications formats and channels could hold some of the answers to building stronger relationships of trust and confidence in an era where consumers are increasingly wary.