Almost two thirds of IFAs believe the internet will be of growing importance to consumers searching for financial advice, according to Unbiased.co.uk.
In its latest ‘State of the IFA Nation’ report, Unbiased.co.uk also found strong evidence that IFAs are raising their qualifications in advance of the RDR.
Research for the report found 61% of IFAs think the internet will become more important to consumers seeking financial advice, and over two thirds have their own website. The number of IFAs with a web address has risen 4% over the past year after seeing rapid growth of 16% between 2006 and 2007.
However, the report claims half of those advisers do not currently promote their website through the Unbiased.co.uk ‘Find and IFA’ portal.
The research discovered the Internet is now the second most important source of business leads, topped only by personal referrals.
David Elms, chief executive of Unbiased.co.uk, says: “It is encouraging to see that IFAs are embracing the online world, but there is still much more they can do.
“There are still one in three IFA firms that are currently without a website and we know that consumers are increasingly using the web to research their financial advice options.”
The report also discovered high levels of professional qualifications among IFA firms, which Unbiased.co.uk says are particularly important in light of the RDR’s recommendations.
The Unbiased.co.uk database shows 17,290 individual IFAs have over 23,500 qualifications between them, all of which are incremental to the benchmark Certificate in Financial Planning.
Investments and savings were the areas in which IFAs were most specialised, with around 97% citing this as a top product area. Retirement planning followed close behind with 94%, while 87% mentioned protection sales.
The industry continues to be male dominated, with 82% of firms having only male IFA employees, while 13% have both male and female. The remaining 5% of firms only have female IFA employees.
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