Engaging clients in the financial advice journey
By Mark Corby, Product Manager at intelliflo – With the continued economic uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, there’s never been a more important time for financial advice. I look at how we can widen access to financial advice and encourage greater engagement with financial planning.
A year on from the first lockdown, Covid-19 has significantly affected our daily lives. Most of us have seen an impact on our finances too. Some people have seen their income drop substantially due to furlough or redundancy, while the restrictions on our travel and leisure activities have meant that others have been able to save more than ever before. According to research by the Bank of England in the second half of last year, 28 per cent of British households had added to their savings during the pandemic, but 20 per cent had dipped into their financial reserves1.
These volatile and unpredictable times have made long-term financial planning more important than ever. From our conversations with advisers, we know that Covid-19 has caused a shift in the type of advice required, with people seeking help with a variety of social as well as financial issues. Post-pandemic, how can we encourage the broader range of people who need financial advice to take it? And how can advisers deliver suitable, personalised advice to a greater number of clients?
Technology can play a crucial role in reaching new audiences and streamlining processes so that advisers can work more efficiently. A year of lockdowns has made everyone far more comfortable accessing services online. And this familiarity looks likely to change our behaviour in the long-term. According to the latest Office for National Statistics research from March this year, 54 per cent of British adults shopped online more during the pandemic and 33% expect they will continue to do so in future. In addition, 57 per cent held more frequent video calls with friends and family over the last year and 29 per cent plan to keep this up2.
This mirrors our experience at intelliflo. We’ve seen a surge in use of online messaging, document sharing, digital signatures and online meetings. Use of Glia, our virtual meeting functionality, increased 6-fold between February and April last year. By the end of 2020, the rise was more than 10-fold.
We’re also hearing from advisers how valuable technology has been over the last year, ensuring business could continue as usual, as much as possible, when the country went into lockdown last March. Holding all client meetings online would have been almost unimaginable at the start of last year, but 12 months on, we’re seeing widespread adoption of virtual meeting technology. In the future, continued use of these tools could mean less need to travel to client meetings, giving advisers time to deal with more clients and the opportunity to target a far larger area.
Interactive digital tools have an important role to play in reaching clients of all ages. They can help demonstrate the benefits of advice, educate clients and provide ongoing mentoring, all of which advisers tell us are crucial to greater engagement and delivering the best outcomes. Functionality like cashflow planning can bring the client’s personal financial situation to life, making them feel more involved in the implementation of the recommendations and providing a greater sense of connection with the plan. Although we often think that younger people are more likely to embrace technology, we are finding that digital access is helping older generations connect with their finances too. Statistics from intelliflo office show that adoption of the intelliflo personal finance portal is fairly consistent across all age groups and use actually increases as you move into retirement.
One positive legacy of the coronavirus crisis may be a greater appreciation of the value of financial advice. As restrictions are lifted and the economy starts to recover, hopefully more people will seek advice to support their long-term financial wellbeing and help achieve their personal and professional goals.