Knock, knock. Are you there? More importantly, are you listening?
I ask this question because of the enormous opportunities the current market is presenting for each and every adviser, whether working within a large firm or a one-person practice, as an independent adviser or restricted.
In my 50 years in financial services I find it hard to recall a time when the opportunities for advisers were greater than they are today.
Firstly, we all know that the desperate need for financial advice has always existed; however, what we are now experiencing is a real demand from consumers as they increasingly recognise their need for advice.
This is reinforced by such examples as the recent ILC-UK survey, which showed that consumers who are professionally advised are, on average, £40,000 better off at retirement than those without advice.
This difference spanned all income groups and covered a period of less than 10 years. Imagine the enormous benefit to be gained by extending this advantage over a person’s working lifetime.
Secondly, there is increased recognition, in the media and politically, of the real value to consumers of regulated financial advice. Most of the cynicism and criticism that used to emanate from these quarters has disappeared.
Even the debates that have raged over the differences between non-regulated guidance and regulated advice have, almost by accident, reinforced the awareness of regulated advice and the consumer protection it provides.
Lastly, the Finance Bill has reinstated the proposal that consumers can use up to £500 per year from their pension fund for up to three years to pay for advice. I believe the importance and value of this government initiative has been virtually ignored by advisers.
Comments from some advisers suggesting “that £1,500 will not pay for much advice” completely overlook how psychologically important this will be, especially for younger consumers for whom the value of saving early cannot be overstated. What is needed now is for pension providers and trustees to ensure that accessing this cash is made quick and administratively simple.
Doubtlessly, consumers will then save more, much earlier than they would otherwise.
The bottom line is that every consumer now has the potential to benefit from tax deductible financial advice. I hope you are listening, because opportunity is knocking.
Ken Davy is group chairman of SimplyBiz