Advisers work around the clock as 2020 uncertainty shifts the conversation for good, says new research

More than half (52 per cent) of IFAs have seen a marked increase in out of hours contact with clients as attitudes towards personal finances have shifted in the wake of Covid-19, according to new research from wealth manager Charles Stanley. 

Almost half (47 per cent) also confirm that clients required a significant level of detail on their investments and performance.

 
The research coincides with the launch of Charles Stanley’s new white paper ‘Book of Stories 2.0’, which gives advisers an insight into how to navigate the challenges of intergenerational wealth transfer and engage the next generation of clients in a fast-changing world. The study found that 2020 has been a pivotal year fundamentally altering the adviser conversation, pushing estate planning and the transfer of wealth to the next generation higher up their clients’ priority list according to over half (55 per cent) of advisers.   Similarly, a third (34 per cent) of consumers interviewed say that making plans to pass on their money to their families and inheritance is the main reason they would seek financial advice.
 
There are signs that the financial and digital disruption of 2020 has accelerated demographic changes which are likely to remain long after the Covid crisis ends. Well over two thirds (68 per cent) of advisers say they have seen more engagement from younger audiences. And positively, a quarter (23 per cent) of advisers say there has been greater appetite for ESG/sustainable investing from clients.
 
The events of 2020 have thrown many consumers’ financial plans into question prompting many to turn to their adviser to discuss financial worries. Seven in ten (70 per cent) advisers say they’ve seen an increase in concern from clients over funding later life, while almost two thirds (63 per cent) have seen an increase in concerns around income generation, and early retirement (61 per cent). Other areas of concern include pension drawdown (64 per cent) and will writing (57 per cent).
 
Well over a quarter (28 per cent) say their clients have discussed delaying life events such as downsizing, while the same number (28 per cent) stressed clients were under greater financial pressure. Supporting family members financially has also been high on the agenda with more than one in five (22 per cent) advisers saying this has been a key topic for discussion, while the same number (22 per cent) have debated possible delays in retirement due to financial uncertainty.
 
John Porteous, Group Head of Distribution, Charles Stanley, says: “It’s been a difficult year for many, with financial plans and investments thrown off course by the market turbulence and the economic impacts of Covid. It’s at times like this that financial advice really pays dividends and our survey suggests this is translating into a surge in demand among advisers.
 
“During 2020 advisers have been quick to adapt to “the new normal” pivoting high touch face to face business models to be able to serve a more diverse client set remotely.  And while this has undoubtedly placed a lot of pressure on them, it’s also arguably left them better equipped for the new adviser conversation which is fast emerging.  As we go into 2021, finding new ways to serve an engaged, intergenerational audience will be a priority to meet their differing attitudes and requirements.”
 
The research also found that more than seven in ten (72 per cent) advisers predict their clients will be more active and engaging in their finances in the months ahead.