Add to that the challenges of the current crisis, and that complexity becomes more acute.
As financial advisers, we’re in unchartered territory.
The nation faces an unprecedented level of financial distress in the months and years to come.
Many people are finding themselves in difficult financial circumstances for the first time in their lives.
As an industry we need to stay on top of the game, be adaptable, and learn new skills to ensure we continue to offer our clients a good service.
We also need to remember the 41 per cent: that is, the people who recognise that they need advice, and who are likely to have thought about what might happen to their loved ones should disaster strike.
The painful irony here is that advice on the products that are needed most right now – such as income protection, critical illness cover and life assurance – is paid for through the premium.
This may put off some prospective clients, given the mis-selling scandals of the past, but it’s a much more affordable way of paying for an advice service.
This is especially true when you consider the dangers of the DIY approach (that is, trying to work out the sort of policies you might need and then trawling through comparison websites to look for the cheapest deal), which can result in overlaps and gaps in cover and not necessarily for a cheaper premium.
Bridging the gap
So how do we, as an industry, address this problem?
We urgently need to change the way financial advice is perceived and build trust and rapport with the British public.
And, at a time when people are more vulnerable than ever, we have a social responsibility to straighten out the confusion surrounding what financial advice is, how it’s paid for and the consequences of getting things wrong.
People need to know that if they don’t take proper advice, they risk not being adequately covered while paying over the odds for the wrong protection policies.
The question you need to ask both yourself, and your client, is: do they understand this? Do they understand the process? And do they value your advice enough to follow it?
The value of education in the advice process is as critical as the advice itself.
Asking the right questions at the early stages of the fact-find will help you get a measure of how familiar a client is with the advice process.
More importantly, you'll understand what will make them happy with their finances, which will then give you and your client a common goal to work towards.
A quick win is for advisers to raise the issue in conversations with current clients.