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What impact is the pandemic having on behavioural finance?

This article is part of
Guide to advice after the pandemic

What impact is the pandemic having on behavioural finance?

The unprecedented nature of the current crisis has prompted academic publisher Emerald to request a call for papers for the review of behavioural finance; where it is asking people to submit original, scholarly articles for review and consideration for publication.

As coronavirus has created dramatic challenges for individuals, economies, financial markets, financial institutions and governments, the research will cover; over-reaction and under-reaction in markets, herding and spillovers effects and the behaviour and attitudes of individual investors.

So how might financial decision-making change in a post-pandemic world?

People are more aware of their mortality, but in the protection market this has not necessarily translated into more enquiries for advisers.

People are worried about their jobs and paying bills so talking about spending more money has not been high on their list, according to advisers.

And even where there has been interest, Ian Sawyer, commercial director at Assured Futures, says it has become harder for customers to get “on risk” especially if they have had any previous symptoms of Covid-19, as insurers are postponing their decision on the application for cover or declining it.

Mr Sawyer is concerned that any long delays to approving a potential customer at a time when they are their most engaged could decrease their level of engagement at a later date.

Also, some 65 per cent of all income protection demand is due to unemployment cover, but this ceased to exist for new business when lockdown was instilled back in mid-March, because of the impact of coronavirus on the economy and job security.

Mr Sawyer says: “The advice call is also becoming longer. [People's] engagement and propensity to get advice is better but with additional questions, we have to explain the impact.”

Generating business

At a time when advisers are experiencing a fall in enquiries translating into policies, client retention is a key area that protection advisers should focus on, Alan Lakey, director at Highclere Financial Services, says.

In his other job running CI Expert, one of the most common questions he is asked about, understandably, is about generating business.

Mr Lakey says: “One area is making sure you review your clients' protection plan. 

“It is a strange world we live in, because [advisers] review their clients’ investment and pensions, but often people don’t think about reviewing clients' protection plans, which is crazy; as circumstances change.

“I have been showing various advisers how they can undertake a review within three minutes. Not only do they make contact with the client which is always good, because clients like to be kept in touch with, but also in many instances, they will be able to improve the client's cover and naturally that brings with it income.”

Mr Lakey says it will be even more important for advisers to stay in touch with clients and review their situation, as the country faces challenging economic times.