‘Keep it simple stupid’

Derek Bradley

Derek Bradley

While today it translates as, ‘keep it simple stupid’, the principle was best illustrated by Johnson handing a team of engineers a handful of tools, with the challenge that the sophisticated jet aircraft they were designing needed to be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only these tools.

Hence, the ‘stupid’ refers to the relationship between the way things break and the sophistication available to fix them when it happens.

As a country, UK plc has moved away from the manufacture of goods and products heading instead toward the manufacture and provision of intangible goods and services.

While financial services is often collectively referred to as an industry, distribution was seldom linked to a profession until the RDR arrived – now we have an industry made up of many different ‘manufacturers’ (providers) and distributors large and small.

Often very similar, intangible products have been designed to address a vast array of perceived financial needs or problem-solving solutions for both personal and corporate consumption.

But in the brave new world of RDR, the delivery of consumer-friendly, understandable, simplified advice - to those consumers disenfranchised by adviser segmentation - which could lead to transactional outcomes online is being thwarted by the very thing that should make it simple. Regulation.

It is a fact that any ‘industry’ that ‘designs and manufactures’ products has done so because it has identified a consumer need, or at least thinks it has. In doing so it then needs to create awareness of what it has made and to find a way of getting it distributed. That still often means finding a sales force or in our more technologically-enlightened times an easy way for somebody to buy it.

In this day and age that would be online. It is simple and there are so many ways to achieve the awareness and understanding with technology to enable the ‘shop’ button to be hit. For example, using video content to deliver free internet research opportunities and understandings to create better informed, engaged and protected consumers.

There are some 340,000 years of video watched globally online every day. Around 68 per cent share their viewings and for firms that have video embedded on their site relating to a product or service, 88 per cent of visitors spend more time on their site.

Consumers who watch a product video are 85 per cent more likely to buy it. The phrase, ‘what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what goes on YouTube stays on Google forever’ is a great reminder that a compliance trail is nicely dealt with at the same time, no more ‘he said, she said’.

With this in mind while simplified advice is possible, perhaps a starting point would be to invent a different description such as ‘simplified outcomes’ or ‘simplified solutions’?

And to make this work, a set of plain English protocols should be put in place that simplifies the regulation and responsibility for ‘simplified outcomes’ or ‘simplified solutions’, placing a consumer looking for low-cost financial ‘understandings’ in an informed space so they can quickly and easily make a good decision and purchase whilst helping them understand they have an element of responsibility for their choices.