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The changing face of financial advice

This week marks the second anniversary of the first national Covid-19 lockdown. Like many organisations across all sectors, the financial services industry had to adapt quickly to the social distancing rules imposed by the UK government, with all adviser-client interactions carried out virtually for much of the pandemic period.

Yet, this embracing of the tech revolution has proved incredibly beneficial for the industry. Indeed, the change in working practices has been positive for advisers and consumers alike as access to financial advice becomes more readily available to retirement planners.

The switch to virtual services

Prior to the pandemic, in-person meetings between advisers and clients were the norm, with this sort of interaction perceived as integral to building relationships and making important decisions throughout the retirement planning process.

However, research from the end of last year found that nearly a third (31%) of people that had received financial advice had used remote advice channels for the first time since the UK first entered lockdown in 2020.

Evidently, over the last two years, advisers’ approaches to interactions have changed, with consultations with clients being conducted through telephone, and video calls replacing the need for face-to-face meetings. In short, this has provided a constant line of connection between advisers and people seeking financial advice, ensuring that pension planners have support to hand when they need it the most.

In many ways, remote practices of delivering advice have created a more efficient and streamlined approach to the financial advisory process whilst improving wider national accessibility. For example, an individual based in Cornwall could now speak to an adviser from Yorkshire without needing to dedicate time or resource to travel for a face-to-face meeting. Likewise, the process is now easier than ever, which might make those who are put off by lengthy procedures and financial planning procedures more inclined to seek advice.

Clients have certainly welcomed the switch, with more than half of advised individuals (56%) stating that they are now happier than they were before the lockdown, given the switch to receiving advice remotely.

Therefore, the industry must strive to continue embracing tech-based approaches. Coupled with excellent independent financial advice, we must keep up the progress and go a step further in improving the accessibility of financial advice.

Improvements in platforms

Retirement is a time of significant change in lifestyle for many people, as they look to move away from work and start making financial choices with their pension in mind. Therefore, they must ensure that they are maximising their financial well-being and getting their finances in order.

It is important that retirement planning involves an open-door system that enables all savers to receive the best advice and information regarding their savings and investments, no matter their occupation or where they are located in the country. This can be achieved by further progressing tech-based approaches alongside encouraging more individuals to seek independent financial advice.

Certainly, future financial advice should continue to aim for improved engagement from pension savers. Advisers often struggle to get people to attend regular reviews, which for those years away from retirement may feel unnecessary at times. So, a lighter tech-based approach utilising online apps, booking systems, and instant chat services would actively encourage engagement from savers across all age ranges.

The major advantage of such platforms is their simplicity for users. Financial advisers can maintain simple and clear lines of communication through emails to clients to provide updates outlining clients’ progress with their pension pot and whether they are on track to meet their retirement goals. They can also send information, including topics of interest, such as new investment opportunities and industry news. This approach not only allows clients better access to their savings and a more informed view of the pension landscape but also ensures a close relationship between clients and advisers.

Ultimately, as tech-based solutions take hold of the financial planning industry, it ultimately lowers the cost of advice and makes it more accessible to the masses. And, certainly, considering more than half (53%) of UK adults are now seeking financial advice, this is a step in the right direction.