Opinion  

Admin wasting adviser time

Alison Steed

Alison Steed

Very few of us will wake up in the morning and look forward to going to a job we love, but I would hazard a guess that for the most part many advisers feel a little differently than that.

Taking time to help people make the most of their money is highly rewarding on many levels – yes financially, but also in terms of having skills that are generally hard-earned that you are using to make someone else’s life better, more secure, or more settled.

The thing is, this level of care and help takes time, whether that is face-to-face or not, and time is a finite commodity.

The trouble with the current regulatory environment is that time is being eroded by the administration required to ensure compliance with a wide number of regulatory burdens, not least Mifid II and the General Data Protection Regulation.

The Senior Managers and Certification Regime, which comes into effect in December, will merely add to this burden – but things are already stretched.

A close affinity to dealing with admin is not likely to have been the first reason most of you became advisers, but it is now the thing many of you are spending most time on.

Square Mile Investment Consulting and Research found that time in front of clients came third in the list of the greatest demands on time, with admin top and compliance second.

That cannot be right – not because I do not believe those are the biggest demands, I really do, but because when the best way to help clients is by sitting with them and going through their financial affairs, that should be the number one priority for advisers in terms of time spent.

But with Mifid II adding an extra 20 minutes of administrative time to every client meeting according to the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, things are getting worse not better.

Nucleus research found just one-in-seven advisers spend more than 40 per cent of their time with clients, down from one-in-five last year.

One-in-seven is a ridiculously small number of advisers spending a ridiculously small amount of time with clients.

Admin is a necessity in every business, and there are plenty of administration tasks any business owner outside our industry has to deal with as a matter of course. It is just how the world works.

But when you add the basic level of business administration into the overall admin and compliance burden suffered by advisers, it is getting to a critical level.

There is only so much time in the day and stretching that day to cover admin tasks while maintaining optimum client contact is not sustainable in the longer term.

Many advisers are choosing to outsource their regulatory compliance in a bid to free up more time, but that then comes at a cost.

Besides, the compliance outsourced will still need to be managed, and the company you outsource to will also have administrative requirements of you too.