Advisers are feeling resilient in the face of the looming second lockdown, claiming that both clients and staff have gotten used to working within restrictions and that most providers have improved their service.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced to the nation on Saturday (October 31) that the UK would be plunged into a second lockdown from Thursday (November 5), with mixing of households banned and the population encouraged to work from home where possible.
It mirrors the restrictions imposed at the end of March at the start of the coronavirus crisis. At the time, this caused an issue for an industry reliant on face to face meetings, wet signatures and paper trails.
But the industry is feeling bolstered by its previous handling of lockdown measures as it faces another period of restrictions.
Tim Harvey, director at HR Independent, said despite the fact he was in the midst of cancelling and rescheduling face-to-face meetings, it would be “life as normal” for his firm throughout the second lockdown.
He said: “Clients are being pragmatic and either choosing to move their review or do it virtually. But we’ve been through this before, so no one is panicking.
“New business is still coming through and we have appointments in place from referrals, so it all seems normal, really.”
Mr Harvey did raise concerns that advice firms which were more reliant on new business could feel the pinch, but again stressed that such businesses had been through the same issues earlier this year.
In terms of providers and the level of service provided, Mr Harvey said you could reach the conclusion that some firms were either “breathtakingly incompetent” or “genuinely don’t care about IFA services”.
He added: “Given that companies had four months in which to get it right last time, I’m convinced those that failed to get it right won’t do anything different.”
Changing face of advice
It would be an “understatement” to say that life would not go back to how it was before the pandemic and advisers would have to adapt their behaviour, warned Billy Burrows, retirement director at Better Retirement Group.
But he added that this paved the way for positive changes in the way clients will be advised in the future.
For example, advisers will have more regular contact with their clients through better use of video conferencing.
He said: "One of the many advantages of using video conferencing is that we can speak to clients more often and without the need to travel or intrude into their offices or homes.”
Mr Burrows said in the future there would be more of an emphasis on longer term retirement planning, for example cash flow modelling, and on risk management especially in terms of investments.
Mr Burrows said: “We are finding that many clients want to discuss a wider range of topics such as ‘de-risking’ their pensions and investments, wills, LPA’s and IHT planning.