Reasons to be cheerful

I find myself in a rather upbeat mood; optimistic for the future of the financial intermediary world. I’ve listened to the naysayers and the doom merchants who have been predicting the end of the financial advice world in the run up to the RDR and beyond, but much like the bloke with his placard proclaiming the coming apocalypse and advising us all to repent, I’ve decided to ignore the pessimists.

Thinking back to the end of the last millennium, I remember some ‘experts’ earnestly warning us that planes would fall out of the sky on the stroke of midnight on 1 January 2000. Those old enough will probably remember it too, with a wry smile no doubt. Unsurprisingly the much hyped and cataclysmic affects of the ‘millennium bug’ never materialised and we all went about our business pretty much as before.

The sensationalists were proved wrong. As they are time after time.

Many of us fear the unknown – that’s perfectly understandable. When asked what he feared most, Harold Macmillan famously quipped; “Events, dear boy, events”. However some obsess over uncertainty. Fear and impending doom fixates them so much that they become paralysed and unable to see, let alone capitalise on the opportunities that new processes and ways of working can bring about. They are unable to adapt to change. Charles Darwin didn’t have much time for those people.

So – down to business. Why am I in such a chipper mood?

We recently carried out some research and analysis amongst 1,500 advisers. Our ‘AVIVA Adviser Barometer’ research has been running for five years. So it’s not one of those bits of opportunistic research conceived to uncover an ‘alarming’ stat that will garner national headlines. Over the five years it’s measured adviser attitudes and perceptions over dramatic periods of change. It’s highlighted threats and opportunities. It’s uncovered some surprising trends in business models. In short, it is one of the the most authoritative pieces of regular benchmarking research that tracks what makes advisers ‘tick’ in the UK. This latest wave of research points to a positive future, full of opportunities for advisers to develop new ways of working. And importantly, for me, focuses our attention on what we need to do to help advisers make the most of these opportunities.

Reasons to be cheerful. 1, 2, 3

1. Two thirds (64%) of advisers have seen an increase in the size of their ‘active client’ base. Only 10% reported a decrease. So what happened to those predictions of adviser customer bases drying up following the RDR? It just hasn’t happened.

2. Even better, almost half of these new clients (43%) are brand new to the market, having never before engaged with other forms of advice. A further 22% of the new clients have come over from banks and building societies.

3. But the two stats that really stand out for me are these: 86% of advisers expect the budget to have a positive impact on the advice market. As a direct response to this new, and potentially lucrative stream of business, nearly half of those advisers surveyed (46%) say they are likely to introduce a broader range of products to meet their customer’s retirement needs.

That’s hopefully where we, and other equally enlightened businesses, come in. Helping advisers make the most of the post-budget/post-RDR opportunities. Coming up with new, profitable ways of working. Offering platform, product, investment and service propositions that work for the customer and the adviser.

It’s not all doom and gloom out there. Adviser attitudes are broadly positive. As am I.

Perhaps Macmillan got it wrong after all. ‘Events’ aren’t to be feared. They should be seen as opportunities to find new ways of working; new ways to adapt to change and to thrive.

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