Brendan Llewellyn outlines his reasons for optimism in 2014...
1 Last year saw more work on strategy and proposition development by adviser firms than ever before, and many more advisers are taking marketing seriously.
2 Adviser revenues are rising - a census by BWD this year suggested adviser incomes are up about 10% on 2012 (the same study also suggested over 40% of advisers are Chartered or are soon to be).
3 Those, the vast majority, that remain as advisers are moving to a more professionalised model for remuneration.
4 Some good new thinking is emerging, particularly on ‘life planning'. We are seeing ways of engaging with clients on all aspects of their life in a way that is a far cry from the product pushers of yesteryear.
5 If there really is an advice gap, then it is an opportunity. For individual advisers it means that new clients, if you look for them, should be there. For adviser firms it means there's an opportunity to expand the adviser resource; a time to hire, perhaps.
6 There are other gaps, but they can be good news too. The protection and savings gap, the pensions gap; all represent opportunities to work with clients to help fill them. We even have room for more: the care gap, for example.
7 The super tanker trends (the declining role of welfare and the state, and the declining role of employer sponsored benefits). Both continue to create enormous potential for the adviser market.
8 The stock market is looking OK: FTSE 100 at the end of 2011 was 5,507, and 5,898 at the end of 2012. Now it's around the 6,500 mark.
9 Costs to clients are showing some signs of falling - the trend is towards passives or ETFs, there is more price competition in platforms, and we are even seeing some drops in the price of active fund management. More generally, price is out of the closet and on to the table.
10 We are not in recession.
11 The housing market - certainly in the south of Britain - is in better health than it was last year.
12 What a difference one initial can make: The FCA may really be an improvement on its predecessor; more willing to listen and engage.
13 The RDR happened, and we are still here.
What made financial headlines over the weekend?
Q2 net sales dropped almost 50%
‘Important to have an anchor’
Lack of innovation for solutions