‘Opportunity' is a word advisers must hear an awful lot. Auto-enrolment? That's an opportunity right there. The RDR? Yep. The rise of social media? Are you kidding? Huge opportunity, that.
The difficult bit, of course, is how to spot the real openings and do something about them.
Well, advisers, I've another one you might want to add to your list (sorry): the banking crisis. At a breakfast meeting earlier this week, it was put to me that advisers have three years to make the most of consumers' lack of confidence in the banks. That's three years to build a trusted brand and win some of that business. Once the three years are up, this individual said, all will be forgiven (PPI et al) and consumers will head back in-branch for a spot of retirement planning.
So, how far has the public's confidence in banks fallen? Well, according to an independent study charting social attitudes over the last 30 years, a lot: less than a fifth of people now believe banks are "well run", compared to 90% in 1983, NatCen Social Research's latest report found. The seeming implausibility that nine in ten people trusted their bank 30 years ago may tell us everything about our attitudes towards these institutions today.
‘Opportunity' is a word advisers must hear an awful lot
Still, how might advisers take advantage of the lull? After all, they too are victims of this crisis in confidence as a result of the tarred-with-the-same-brush rule.
Here's my answer: just keep doing what you are doing. Continue to deliver good advice built on a foundation of consistent process, tireless due diligence and sound record keeping. That will be enough to make a dent, if not a crater. In the meantime, it is up to adviser bodies, like the Association of Professional Financial Advisers, to make plenty of noise about the benefits of proper financial planning. Eventually, heads will begin to turn.
Scott Sinclair is editor of Professional Adviser and IFAonline.co.uk
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