OpinionMar 9 2021

Advisers must adapt or risk going extinct

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Last week I ‘celebrated’ 29 years as an adviser, so in some respects I am a dinosaur raised on the old ways of doing business and dealing with clients.

Face-to-face meetings, selling products, talking about investments and all that.

Those big lizards failed to adapt and evolve to a changing environment and it eventually killed them all off.

There is great scientific debate about what exactly caused it, of course, but the most current theory is it was an asteroid impact that caused huge environmental changes around the globe. The dinosaurs, used to living in a certain way, could not adapt fast enough and died out.

I think we had that asteroid back in 2013 with the impact of the Retail Distribution Review, which changed the environment for financial advice and the effects are still rippling through.

Many dinosaurs did not adapt then, or chose not too, and left the industry rather than join the profession.

Some have tried to cling on, still looking back to the 'old days' and trying to make them fit into the new world. They rail against every change that tries to drag them kicking and screaming into a profession that serves our clients better, gives better client outcomes, better products and better advice because they do not want to change.

And now we have had another shock to the system; it is almost a year since we entered lockdowns in one form or another and the vast majority of us have had to adapt to new ways of working again.

That includes me; prior to last March I had done one meeting via Skype, and that only as a late replacement for a face-to-face meeting.

Once again some have moved with the times and quickly adapted to online meetings, screen-sharing with clients, using electronic signatures and client portals to deliver documents securely.

That goes for providers too. Some were already well positioned for dealing online with little to no actual paperwork and wet signatures required.

Some caught up and made changes quickly to enable us to continue to do business, some, sadly, either had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age and some have still not moved at all.

Now I will not still be doing this in 29 years time; I am expecting for 12 to 15 years, but I have no doubt that there will be more changes to come in that time.

The fact that I am still here and flourishing, I hope, shows that, despite my age, I am not a dinosaur. I have adapted and embraced that change over the years and I continue to do so.