Despite lockdown and unprecedented market volatility, financial advisers reported a boom in demand for their services throughout 2020.
With greater use of remote working and video calling to attract and serve new clients, greater uptake of technology and software among advisers working from home and an increased interest in ESG investing among investors all providing new opportunities, nearly 60% of advisers were able to increase their client numbers over the past 12 months.
The report, “Thriving Through Turmoil: How Financial Advisers navigated a year of unprecedented change”, published by global fund data and technology company FE fundinfo also found:
- Just 5% of advisers saw a decrease in the number of clients advised
- 89% have increased investment in their businesses, with:
- 58% investing more in new technology
- 40% investing more in back office systems
- 38% investing more in staff training
- 26% investing more in recruitment
- 58% feel more positive about their business outlook compared to the previous year
The report also shows how quickly advisers are adapting to the technological opportunities provided by remote working. More than 40% identified new technology within the industry being one of the biggest opportunities, while a similar number said they were able to reduce operational costs through remote working.
Mark Chanda, Head of Adviser Sales at FE fundinfo, said:
“There was naturally a great deal of concern among advisers at the beginning of the pandemic about how their operations would deal with a sudden switch to working remotely. In an industry where face-to-face and personal relationships count for so much, it is pleasing to see that advisers for the most part have responded quickly and effectively and have recognised how they can use it to save time and streamline their processes.
“With increased investment in their businesses and in technology, advisers are adapting well to the new environment and will arguably be in an even stronger position to take advantage of further opportunities which will undoubtedly arise. In the coming year, advisers will need to ensure they are using the right technology to capitalise on the efficiencies they have gained over the past year and integrate their existing tools with new offerings in the market.”
Despite this optimism, advisers did however sound a cautious note about the long-term effects of increasing costs, regulation and market conditions in the wake of both the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. Nearly three quarters (73%) cited the burden of existing regulations being their biggest concern for the year ahead, followed by increasing costs driven largely by PI insurance (53%) and uncertainty in the markets caused by Covid (35%) and Brexit (35%).
Mark Chanda added:
“Increasing costs are a perennial thorn in the side for advisers. It is difficult for advisers to look at their charges, particularly when their own margins are stretched by rising costs, but advisers recognise that the value of advice and interaction with their clients is now more important than ever. What we have seen from our research is that on the whole advisers are being nimble and making the most of the new opportunities on offer. For those adapting to the new way of working, a large pool of non-advised potential clients who are sitting on increased savings pots presents an opportunity for further business growth.”