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What can advisers learn from Holly Mackay’s Boring Money?

Holly Mackay, founder of Boringmoney.co.uk, wants to cut through the financial jargon and help people to understand investments. She tells Adviser Business Review why the financial advice market must evolve with the growing demands of consumers and why we are likely to see a ‘blend’ of advice in the future

Founder and managing director of financial website, Boring Money, Holly Mackay passionately believes in turning financial jargon into ‘real speak’ and helping ordinary people understand their options.

“My aim is to help people without PhDs in finance understand the investment market – without jargon or bias,” she says.

Mackay has worked in financial services since 1998, holding senior roles at Merrill Lynch, Aviva and Santander, before setting up her first business, The Platforum, in 2008, which she sold to Centaur Media. She launched Boring Money in July 2015.

She explains: “I acted on a hunch initially. I wanted to provide help for those consumers who can’t afford or don’t want to see an adviser and I wanted to do it fairly quickly.

“I was fed up of sitting in industry conferences listening to the same old waffle and watching dull videos which exist in a parallel universe to the reality of people’s daily lives. I felt there was a need to attempt a different conversation,” she adds.

Growing engagement with online ‘advice’

While Mackay admits venturing into the consumer space can be a “hard task”, she believes there is a real need for people to have somewhere they can turn to for guidance and knowledge, and says feedback from the website’s users highlights a growing engagement with online help and advice.

In an upcoming report, the Boring Money Census, results showed that just 8% of adults across the wealth brackets are prepared to pay more than £100 an hour for professional financial advice, and yet savings rates are low.

“This is not just an issue of affordability, but also one of confidence and trust,” Mackay says. “The question I asked myself is how do we help people segregate what they actually might need advice for, and what they can do themselves?

“Consumers often don’t know what an adviser costs or what’s involved and they’re too embarrassed to ask,” she says.

Appealing to more women

Boring Money currently attracts around 65% of its traffic from men and 35% from women, a figure Mackay says she’s happy with, but would like to see female users increase.

“Generally speaking, men have twice as many stocks and shares ISAs than woman so there’s still a huge gender gap. On that basis, I’m really pleased that 35% of my audience is female, although I feel very strongly that we need to think about how we talk to women about risk,” she says.

Interestingly, the website’s first consumer campaign, Tired Parents, has attracted as many women as men. Aimed at 35–44 year olds, who research has identified as the least engaged generation with financial services, the campaign has proved a hit, with videos notching up close to 900,000 views.

Traditional advice not for under 44s

Mackay says: “On the whole, people under the age of 44 are far more likely to turn to friends and family for financial advice than an adviser. They are the age group most likely to want to do it themselves and for whom traditional advice models do not appeal.”

According to Mackay, there is a huge opportunity for the industry to reach out to this disengaged, yet web-savvy, group.

She says: “This has significant implications following the Financial Advice Market Review and how we as an industry choose to connect and communicate with this audience. We need a new digital ‘Man from the Pru’ to engage our Tired Parents and Generation X.”

As such, Mackay believes the advice model will need to change going forward.

“At the moment there is one model of advice and that is ongoing advice for an ongoing fee. Advisers need to recognise that the demands of consumers are changing – there is a growing need for ad hoc advice,” she says.

Myth around who’s using online services

Mackay dispels the myth that those going online are the less affluent individuals, less likely to seek advice.

“More and more we are seeing people go online first to do their homework and get an idea of what’s available. High net worth individuals, especially, are under great time pressures and prefer Skype meetings and emails to face-to-face meetings. Technology is changing and the advice industry needs to evolve with it.”

Mackay expects the industry will witness the emergence of a “blend of advice”, part self-service and part financial advice. In turn, she views Boring Money as a type of referral business for advisers, although she admits that there is a huge divide between those who are willing to embrace change and those who are not.

“I speak to some advisers who are very comfortable with their business models, have enjoyed success and don’t want to change a thing. Then there are those who understand their business proposition but are willing to help consumers over and above their client work. It is those advisers who will go some way to repairing the tarnished reputation of financial advice,” she says.

Identifying concerns and priorities

So what’s next for Mackay and Boring Money? The website will be launching another consumer campaign in early June, again focused on a very targeted group.

She says: “Our approach is to really identify different groups’ concerns and priorities and create something that speaks to them and they can relate to. When we launched, it was a test to see what sort of appetite there was for a website like ours, but the feedback we’ve received has shown a real need for guidance.

“For me personally, success lies in the stories where we have really helped people make a difference to their financial situation.”

Visit the Boring Money website

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