A recent PwC report predicts that more than 50 per cent of European funds will be in ESG assets by 2025, highlighting the view that ESG investing will become the norm.
Protection is vital
When consumers make mistakes it is due to a range of issues, from reckless caution where they focus on what are perceived as safe products that produce inferior returns, through to being simply reckless and investing in offers from too-good-to-be-true scammers and unregulated products.
Based on the key drivers that customers look for – ease, simplicity, transparency, and speed on product – consumer protection should reflect this.
Protection from scams and mis-selling is ultimately best delivered by increased access to qualified advisers and by companies that sell directly to consumers, providing evidence of their competence and capability. We strongly support the ‘polluter pays’ principle and believe that the rules around investor exemptions require review.
Regulated companies that cause customers to lose money should bear the burden.
The value of advice
Now more than ever the industry needs to work together to promote the value of advice to the wider population. There are many helpful online tools such as The Pension Advisory Service, the Money Advice Service and Unbiased.co.uk.
However, much more needs to be done by the industry and the government to help people access the financial advice they both need and deserve.
At Openwork, expanding access to face-to-face financial advice is a strategic priority and we continue to invest in recruitment, which last year saw more than 100 advisers join the network, as well as the expansion of our award-winning Academy – real evidence of our partnership approach.
An important part of the recruitment process is helping to make the industry more diverse – more female advisers and more younger recruits – as the key to attracting more customers who will value advice is to have advisers who are more like them.
It is crucial that we make advice as personal as it can be and we believe this will be an important part of this.
The Covid-19 pandemic currently dominates everything, but it will pass, and it is providing opportunities to re-shape the consumer investment market for the better.
The value of advice is clear to the industry, but it needs to be made clearer to consumers and easier to access, which is where we will be focusing, both now and into the future.
Mike Morrow is chief commercial officer at Openwork