Opinion  

Advisers need to think differently to capture the next generation of clients

Christian Barnes

Christian Barnes

As we emerge from the pandemic, the next generation of investors are increasingly rejecting conventional advice channels, despite many having built up a savings pile that they now want to put into the market. We at AML conducted some research to find out why. 

In April this year, along with our research partners at The Nursery, we conducted fieldwork among 1,100 UK investors (with £10,000+ invested) and a range of advisers, from IFAs through to wealth managers. It was a larger sample repeat of a first study (at the same time last year) to gauge investor confidence before and after the emergence of Covid-19. 

At first sight, this year’s study appears positive for advisers.

They report strong business growth and increased demand for their services. And time is finally in greater supply because of the virtual management of relationships between advisers, clients and providers.

With 50 per cent agreeing that the way they communicate with their advisers has changed forever, compared to 34 per cent in 2020, clients seem to think this pandemic ‘time dividend’ is here to stay. And that should mean more opportunity for advisers to develop an enhanced service for clients and to strengthen the bonds even further. 

The combination of a time dividend for advisers and a greater level of savings for many younger, previously non-advised people should mean a greater addressable market for advisers, but it may not feel to many advisers as though that is what’s happening now. 

I say that because there is a lot going on. There are the well-documented inroads from robo-advisers and major investment providers at home and from overseas offering their own advice solutions and driving margins down in the process. But there is also something more fundamental to the future of advice in the UK, and arguably throughout Europe – and it’s all about people.

Younger and new investors (75 per cent of new investors in our sample were under 35 years old) are rejecting conventional advice channels, with 40 per cent relying on family for advice, 30 per cent on banks and 27 per cent on friends. Only 4 per cent now always get advice from experts. Additionally, 40 per cent also say they have invested more with DIY platforms since Covid-19 started.

If we put this into the context of the circa £180bn additional funds that were swelling UK bank accounts by April, cash Isas currently offering around 0.5 per cent at best and a £5.5tn intergenerational wealth transfer forecast over the next 30 years, it makes difficult reading for UK advisers.

As other research has shown new, younger and increasingly female investors are questioning the status quo as never before, rejecting the advisers their parents have used, seeking out investments and peer opinions that share their values for the planet, society and the way their lives and the world is run. 

The DIY generation

Meeting this new and growing investor challenge is difficult when the appetite for advice seems diminished.

The new DIY generation declare themselves significantly more "excited", "open to risk", "happy to experiment" and yet "confused" compared with the over 55s. This is hardly a recipe for happy investment outcomes when cynical market manipulators are promoting 'meme' stocks only to pull out just before posting that everyone else should.