The Retail Distribution Review (RDR) is a crossroads for financial services and self-interest must not be allowed to overshadow its aims, Standard Life boss Paul Matthews has said.
Speaking at the Association of British Insurers (ABI) RRDR conference today, Matthews told delegates the industry had a once in a lifetime change to reshape itself.
"At its best financial advice delivers something that is very much in short supply - confidence and optimism for the future.
"Advisers and providers need to work harder than ever to deliver this, but arguably we've never been in a better position to deliver it with better technology, professional standards and transparency set against the recognition that borrowing more can never be the answer.
"I see the changes being made by the regulator as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to re-shape our industry to deliver outstanding outcomes for customers. But we need to work together."
He added there was a lot to do and the industry had to recognise that customers demand multiple solutions and access through different routes.
"We need to co-exist in a mature manner. We are at a crossroads. We can work together to deliver greater access, engagement and value for consumers, but if we allow self-interest to dominate and do not grasp this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the results for all, particularly the customer, will be extreme for some sections of society."
Matthews said customers will decide which channels they want to engage with and how.
"They don't see that different channels are in competition with each other, and neither should we. Our role is to bring down the barriers between channels, and help them make informed choices to get the best possible outcome."
He said the use of technology to boost self-direction, making the workplace a key channel for younger consumers and better advice facilitation for all were paramount.
"Advisers are likely to be focusing where the need and value for advice is greatest, which in many cases could be the consolidation and retirement phases of their financial plans. With 300,000 baby boomers now retiring every year, there is an enormous opportunity for advisers to capitalise on."
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