Opinion  

A gap in the media for regulated advisers?

A gap in the media for regulated advisers?

Do we need more investment advisers with a national profile to discuss investment, pension investment and, crucially in the next few weeks, how to turn those investments into effective retirement income?

Much as there is an advice gap, is there also a gap in the media for regulated advisers?

This contention may have a few advisers and indeed trade bodies smarting a little. They may argue that they are doing their best to spread the message about advice and financial planning. Likewise, many regional advisers may say they have their locality covered, so perhaps things are not as bad as they seem.

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And yet I am not so sure. To my mind, the landscape is dominated by only a few. Hargreaves Lansdown dominates and there is nothing really very wrong with that. Consumers who listen to what Messrs McPhail, Dampier et al suggest don’t do themselves any harm.

But take away HL and what have we? Well recently I wrote a piece of consumer research for a consultancy where the only name mentioned in passing as one to trust was that of Martin Lewis.

Mr Lewis is, as we know, the figurehead for a formidable editorial and financial operation that runs under the genius name of MoneySavingExpert.

I have no particular beef at all with the site. It also does a huge amount of good, telling people what to do with their money, while injecting a healthy dose of scepticism into its coverage too.

It is now owned by MoneySuperMarket – an even bigger machine commercially – though one that also has a big emphasis on editorial. It also sets out to help people navigate their financial affairs, but its main business is comparing the best deals with the help of an algorithm or three.

What I don’t see either site doing is closing the investment and saving gap, even with millions of engaged visitors, as their coverage is primarily about credit cards, insurance and cash Isas.

Go beyond this, and I wonder what else have we on the landscape. It feels as if much of the web is all about what gold will do this week, how Tesco’s fall is over or not over, how BP’s latest deal is genius or madness. All these questions are relevant, especially for those who frequently trade shares or look to play what might loosely be called global tactical investment themes.

But do any of these questions, many of which sound as if they are skewed to a US audience, address the bread-and-butter investment and pension challenges?

I can see reasons why financial advisers don’t fill the gap. It is probably difficult to translate a national profile into a direct and obvious business return.

It is easier with the HL machine and indeed even for MoneySavingExpert, which generates business for firms mentioned on its site, although its editorial is independent of those firms.