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Two thirds of advisers see active client increase: Aviva

Aviva’s latest adviser survey has revealed 69 per cent have seen the size of their ‘active’ client base increase - up from 28 per cent last year - while 61 per cent have witnessed more demand for advice from those aged 55-65.

The largest proportion (31 per cent) said the main source of new clients was new entrants to the market, rather than former clients of other advisers (23 per cent).

The provider conducted an online survey amongst 1,044 of its advisers between the end of September and the start of October, finding that 79 per cent still offer independent financial advice and more than half now use more than three platforms.

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The Budget at-retirement reforms dominated questioning though, with 56 per cent stating that the growth in this market was a key opportunity.

When asked about the approach advisers recommend to their clients looking to secure an income for their retirement, 67 per cent said they recommend a mix of income drawdown and annuity, while 37 per cent stated their solution was weighted mostly towards income drawdown.

Only 8 per cent now recommend an annuity as a standalone product, and 15 per cent suggest income drawdown only.

Four out of five advisers continue to offer independent advice, down just 4 per cent over the last 12 months, with 16 per cent now offering restricted advice; up from 13 per cent from September 2013. Network membership has dropped to 31 per cent from 37 per cent.

Advisers’ future plans also remained consistent, with the same number intending to recruit (35 per cent), stay in the market (94 per cent), or achieve chartered status in the next 12 months (16 per cent compared to 18 per cent last September).

Nearly a half of respondents still named regulatory fees and levies as their number one concern, followed closely by professional indemnity costs (43 per cent) and remaining profitable (41 per cent). Concern over economic uncertainty have dropped over the last 18 months, with only 18 per cent now worried about this, compared to 31 per cent in March 2013.

Andy Beswick, Aviva’s intermediary director for retirement solutions, told FTAdviser many of the expected trends post Retail Distribution Review have not fully materialised, with most advisers remaining independent, an increase in active client numbers and segmentation of offerings to cater for a range of clients.

“Advisers have been clever in finding ways to give different customers different services. We had a big response from paraplanners to this study, which is just one demonstration of how advisers are servicing the growth in active clients; I think it gives a pretty optimistic view of the market.”

Mr Beswick stated that in aggregate, the recent deluge of regulatory changes can mostly be viewed as opportunities for advisers. “The main concern seems to be around remaining profitable, coping with the increased cost burden that some of the changes bring.”