I've spent what seems like most of the last month at a variety of industry conferences. I've met a huge range of IFAs across the UK, Europe, India, Australia, Singapore and China - each with their own priorities.
The common thread amongst all the industry practitioners I met – regardless of their location, occupation and business model – was a recognition that they need to make better use of technology, though there were also noticeable differences in the speed at which advisers from different countries were prepared to adopt new ways of working.
As a worldwide industry, financial services has been quite slow to embrace the possibilities that technology can provide. But at least we have reached a point in the UK where we are acknowledging the benefits to be gained from technology.
Back-office providers quite rightly tell us that technology will make IFAs more efficient, more profitable, faster, and so on. But I can’t help thinking that we should be much further down the track by now.
If we focus too much on back-office technology, I think we are missing a trick. A recognised system within an IFA business should, by now, be a given - with our focus now firmly on how technology can be integrated into our long-term strategic vision.
On the same day, Surrey-based IFA Keith Churchouse made fresh enhancements to his online financial planning service (www.advicemadesimple.com), another IFA told me in all seriousness that his “elderly wealthy clients are simply not interested in the internet”.
It’s entirely possible that this is the case but it is in direct contradiction to all the evidence. Indeed, ‘elderly wealthy clients’ are exactly the sort of people that are interested in the internet.
And it’s not just them. All the evidence available, suggests that when ABC1 consumers (i.e. most IFAs’ target clients) are looking for information on financial matters – the first place they turn to is the internet.
To be precise, they turn to Google. There they will find plenty of IFA directories like IFA Promotions and www.advisermap.co.uk, but few actual IFAs.
This is not IFAs’ fault. Our industry has singularly failed to educate advisers on the benefits of the internet and how to manage their online presence.
But their time has come. Keith Churchouse at www.advicemadesimple.com has fired the starting gun and set the pace for IFAs looking to complement their face-to-face service with refreshing and exciting new internet-based services.
Phil Calvert is sales director at FinanceCube.
The views expressed are those of the individual and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
69% of general population
Fidelity International global economist's outlook
Seven years since fund collapse
Tracks firm performance