Come on, admit it: post-RDR life is rosy

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

C’mon, tell me before you go off and enjoy your well-earned holiday in your second home in the glorious Provence sun. How is life shaping up as an independent financial adviser, financial planner or paraplanner in the new world, post-RDR?

Hunky-dory? I would not be surprised if that was your answer. I bet you will literally skip over the Channel in delight at how business is developing now the economy is grudgingly moving out of recession – and the regulator is largely off your back.

My rosy view of an independent financial adviser’s life in the post-RDR world is based in part on personal contact with advisers and on fact (yes, I know, facts and journalists do not always go well together).

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You might not believe it but I do speak to a number of you (some I even class as friends) on a regular basis and all seems pretty good with the world. According to my adviser contacts, there is plenty of money still out there waiting to be invested and lots of people searching for quality financial advice.

Given the big banks have all but given up (thank goodness, I hear you murmur) providing ‘advice’ through their branches, there is only really one destination for them: the offices of a trusty independent or restricted financial adviser. And advisers are enjoying a boom.

There is plenty of research around to back this up, although it does come from those who have a vested interest in promoting the virtues of independent financial advice (I say that only to protect myself from those who think I am talking up the sector).

The latest figures from unbiased.co.uk, the online directory of professional services, indicated strong demand for advice. In the first half of this year, it said more than a quarter of a million adults (258,062 to be precise) visited its site in search of a financial adviser. This represented a near 10 per cent increase on the equivalent figure for the first six months of last year when 235,243 used the site to go advice hunting. About half of those consumers who searched, said the site’s boss Karen Barrett, went on to meet an adviser.

“For the past decade, we’ve consistently seen between 400,000 and 500,000 advice searches a year,” said Ms Barrett. “The credit crunch saw a tail off in demand but it’s picking up again.” She believed more than 500,000 searches would be carried out before the calendar year was out.

Research conducted by financial giant Axa Wealth backed up this renewed thirst for advice. It said that nearly one in five consumers who had never sought advice before now intended to seek it out.

“Financial planning has never been so crucial,” said Axa Wealth’s Paul Riddell. Given the complexity of the taxation world, the pensions system (state and private) and the bewildering array of products available for consumers to choose from, he is dead right.

Complementing Axa Wealth’s work, Standard Life suggested an ‘adviser gap’ was emerging as the demand for advice from the baby boomer generation outstripped the supply of advisers available to help them. It estimated there were nearly 5m people aged 45 or more with more than £100,000 of financial wealth. Many of these people, it said, would turn to a financial adviser in the near future.