Could 2017 be a vintage year for advisers?
ABR asked financial advisers for their views on what 2017 might hold in store for their businesses and financial advice in general
As the year draws to a close, are financial advisers feeling positive about 2017? Following some serious political shocks this year, but the FTSE cresting 7000 again, how do advisers feel the year may pan out both for themselves and their clients?
Keith Churchouse, director and founder of Surrey-based Chapters Financial, says that after a “tumultuous 2016”, he expects consumer appetite to resurface.
“We are very positive about 2017 because as the dust settles over the surprise events and surrounding negative press, the buying public will come back out,” says Churchouse.
“We have some time before the UK exits the European Union and as such, I expect to see significant growth in both funds under management and enquiries next year. I would go as far as to say I think 2017 will be a vintage year for advisers,” he adds.
While there remains a question mark over when the UK will trigger Article 50 and leave the single market, advisers do not expect the uncertainty to hamper investor interest next year.
Lee Glennan, managing director of Glennan Wealth Management, says he remains confident that clients will continue to benefit from the returns from capitalism in 2017, “albeit with a few bumps along the way.”
He says: “The markets ability to absorb the unlikely successes of Brexit and Trump seem to support our view. This said, we are conscious of the likely return of inflation next year and remain committed to encouraging our clients to combat this by investing in real assets.”
Scott Gallacher, director at Rowley Turton, is equally optimistic for the 12 months ahead.
He says: “On the one hand, there is a degree of uncertainty about what these events mean for the UK, but on the other hand even if you could predict the outcome it wouldn’t necessarily feed the investment approach. Our work is focused upon providing balanced portfolios and this will remain the case for 2017.”
The majority of Rowley Turton’s clients have not been overly concerned by events, says Gallacher, but the firm makes a point of keeping them informed of developments.
“We do a lot of pre- and post event client relations and that will continue through next year,” he explains. “Research has shown that there is a huge correlation between adviser contact and business levels and as such, we have tightened up on our communication and will continue to maintain that in 2017. We see it as a form of remote handholding; ensuring our clients know we are there for them.”
Gallacher believes the biggest challenge facing firms next year will be the FSCS costs, which continue to be a burden on firms; an opinion shared by many of his peers.
Glennan says: “It’s a cost of doing business and an increasing burden for a small adviser firm like us. It sticks in the throat as we’ve never had a complaint and are effectively paying for everyone else’s bad advice.”
But despite the rising costs of regulation placing pressure upon firms, the priority for many advisers is not growing client numbers but ensuring clients are right for them.
Glennan says: “From our perspective, we are seeing the number of advisers decrease whilst our specialist area of pensions, investment and retirement are becoming increasingly in demand and more complex.
“We have seen some significant growth in our client numbers this year, but our aim will remain to provide the best possible service to a small number of client families and in this respect, out greatest challenge is to identify and engage with the right sort of clients where we feel we can add significant value,” he adds.
It is a sentiment echoed by Ray Adams, founder of Niche IFA. He says: “Financial advice used to be an industry where advisers would actively seek out clients, but now the reverse is happening. We have far less advisers, yet far more awareness among the general public of the need for advice. The challenge is selecting the right clients; we need to ensure we are the right fit for their needs.”
In a bid to address the growing demand for advice, Adams has made it his mission to employ younger advisers who he believes can service younger clients requiring simplified advice on a tighter budget.
“The issue the industry faces is that firms are frightened to take on and train new staff. They cite it as an expense or time consuming, but they need to look at the bigger picture. We have a challenge to ensure the industry continues beyond us, and that requires more to be done in 2017 to ensure we become an attractive option for school leavers and graduates. If you have different levels of experience within a firm, and with it different fees, you are able to service a wider range of people.”
Adams also believes developments in technology should be embraced, rather than shied away from.
“As an industry, we need to view robo-advice and technology as complementary to what we do, not a threat. We should be able to work alongside robo-advice and tell clients what they can do themselves and what would need the help of a financial adviser. Technology is fantastic and we should be using such developments to our advantage,” he says.
Advances in technology have meant that for many firms, offering services beyond the traditional face-to-face has become a way of differentiating themselves in the market.
Churchouse says his firm will continue to push ahead with its online proposition, Saidso.com, in 2017, designed to offer clients an individual online planning report for £299, as well as promote its recently launched Wealth Dashboard app. The app is targeted at younger savers, and is part of the firm’s bid to engage millennials and younger generations through a quick and easy to understand format.