Openwork 

People unsure how to access advice

People unsure how to access advice

An adviser network has warned more than two out of five consumers are unsure how to access face-to-face advice, as it called for more advisers to join amid growing consumer demand. 

In research released by Openwork today (June 11) the network found 43 per cent of people did not know how to access advice, with a heavy gender bias of 62 per cent of women compared with 38 per cent of men. 

The research, a survey of 1,014 adults in March of this year, found the majority of consumers shunned robo-advice despite growing claims technology could offer a solution to the expanding advice gap. 

Of those surveyed 71 per cent raised concerns robo-advice may not be appropriate for their specific needs, with 73 per cent stating they would rather speak to a financial adviser.

Openwork warned the closure of high street branches by banks and building societies would only add to the growing advice gap, despite its research showing a "real need for financial advice".

Claire Limon, director of learning and acquisition at Openwork, said: "People are increasingly recognising the value of expert financial advice, but it’s worrying that they still aren’t sure about the best way to access it.

"As one of the UK’s largest adviser networks, we believe that face-to-face advice should be readily accessible to all.

"We commissioned the research to check our understanding of people’s attitudes to financial planning so that we can identify and start to break down the barriers that stop so many people seeking it."

Ms Limon said there was already a "massive" unmet demand for face-to-face advice, calling on more advisers to join the network and begin a career in financial planning. 

Last month Openwork announced it hoped 150 trainees would join its academy this year as the network set its sights on UK expansion. 

According to the network the majority of graduates from its academy are career changers from sectors such as education, the armed forces and hospitality.

Mike Lacey, partner at financial adviser firm Bowman Pension Consulting, said the current industry landscape, with a limited number of advisers and "barriers" to entry for new recruits, does not "serve the population". 

Mr Lacey said: "One of the unintended consequences of the understandable drive to increase standards and accountability in our industry is that the burdens on advisers are becoming increasingly onerous.

"We face increased professional indemnity premiums, claims management companies are helping people make successful claims to the Financial Ombudsman Service for advice given 26 years ago and we have lifelong liability for the advice we give.

"This is all comes at a time when, because of Pension Freedoms, there has never been more need for advice."

Mr Lacey added: "To square this circle I see three ways forward; reducing the regulatory burden which would allow our fees and charges to reduce, accepting a two tier advice system with some kind of low-touch advice or guidance and improving the 'robo' offering and publicising it.