Coronavirus  

Covid-19 impact survey reveals third party flaws

Covid-19 impact survey reveals third party flaws

A Financial Adviser survey on the impact of Covid-19 on advisers’ working practices has uncovered signs of discontent with the service proposition offered by third parties, such as platforms.

Opinion was split on how the pandemic had influenced work flow, with 50 per cent of advisers stating their workload was either lower or much lower than usual, but 30 per cent saying it was higher or significantly higher.

Despite tumbling markets and widespread upheaval, 23 per cent of advisers said their workload had remained about the same.

The survey of 296 advisers, conducted during the first 10 days of April, also revealed advisers are largely coping well with their new circumstances from a technological perspective – but found many were nonetheless looking again at the product providers and platforms they use.

Although respondents did not reveal significant levels of frustration with how platforms and product providers had adapted to the change in working practices, more than half said companies had done no better than “moderately well”.

With market volatility also thrown into the mix, a quarter of all respondents said they were now scrutinising their investment providers even more than usual.

Mike Barrett, consulting director at The Lang Cat, said there was a balance to be struck, but added advisers should be scrutinising provider service levels.

He said: “Most advisers I speak with have some sympathy with providers who, like everyone else, are going through the same bewildering change we are all currently experiencing.

“However, we’ve often said that providers should always focus on the ‘moments of truth’ where advisers or the end client need them to deliver on the promised service.”

Mr Barrett said it was inevitable that “moments of truth” would continue to occur.

He added: “If a provider lets the adviser and their end client down at potentially a critical moment in their lives, then it is right that advisers should consider whether the provider should be trusted to look after their other clients’ investments.”

The survey showed almost 80 per cent of advisers ranked communication from business partners such as providers as extremely or very important, with just eight respondents unfazed by performance in this area.

The survey showed a high demand for providers to communicate a continuity of service on their part, followed by stability, continuity of service and risk management.

Last week Financial Adviser reported how platforms had started to rip up their rulebooks in a bid to meet the remote-working requirements of IFAs.

Platforms with large client service teams have been presented with different logistical issues to those with a smaller number of customer service roles, with the likes of Aviva and Aegon currently not accepting inbound calls as teams work from home.

The UK’s lockdown also effectively ended face-to-face meetings, presenting its own issue for an industry that still relies heavily on the use of wet signatures.

The survey also revealed that advisers were changing their own working patterns during the Covid-19 lockdown.