Aviva’s latest Adviser Barometer found market sentiment is improving, with the overwhelming majority of advisers (89%) now saying they are likely to remain in business post-RDR and just 4% saying they are likely to leave the market.
Advisers adapting to survive and thrive
Aviva’s quarterly adviser research is designed to assist Aviva in fully understanding how it can support intermediaries. It found that more than two-thirds (69%) of advisers are now making changes to their business model in advance of the RDR.
As part of these changes, 67% say they are adopting client segmentation to allow them to provide different levels of service to different client types. Encouragingly, preparation for RDR also sees almost half (47%) of intermediaries increasing investment in their business and a third (36%) looking to recruit more advisers.
Concerns and challenges
However, advisers still have concerns about how they will run their businesses post-RDR. The proportion of intermediaries worried about profitability has increased from 31% (May 2011) to 40% (September 2011) as the deadline looms while concerns about gaining further qualifications have fallen from 38% (June 2011) to 35% (September 2011) as greater clarity around training has emerged.
Interestingly, despite the recent upheaval in Europe, concern about economic uncertainty (29%) has actually fallen since May (33%) as advisers adjust to the current world order.
- 89% of IFAs now say they’re expecting to be in business on 1 January 2013
- 40% of firms cite remaining profitable as being their greatest concern
- 57% of advisers say the reliability of systems is their main technology challenge
Growing use of technology and platforms
On top of the regular tracking data, the latest research focused on how IFAs are using technology to streamline their businesses and demonstrate compliance. It is clear that technology has a key role to play for advisers in the future – with a third (32%) planning to increase their use of technology as a result of RDR and other regulatory change.
Unsurprisingly, not one IFA surveyed plans to reduce their technology use. However, the growing use of technology is not without challenges, the greatest being the reliability of systems (57%).
Technology challenge facing advisers % of advisers who agree
The research discovered 75% of advisers claim to use between one and three platforms regularly and the main factors influencing advisers’ choice of platform are its research capabilities (55%) followed by the breadth of its online services (54%).
Directly authorised IFAs are more likely to choose a platform based on the breadth of its online services than appointed representatives (63% vs 45%). When choosing a platform advisers say the number of funds under management is less important.
Dean Lamble, director of distribution development at Aviva, says: “The Retail Distribution Review is one of the biggest changes we have seen in the financial services arena for many years. Therefore, the signs that intermediaries are not just meeting the challenge but also using it to as an opportunity to future-proof their livelihoods is great news.
“The commitment to recruiting new staff and investing in aspects of their businesses shows that despite the current economic climate, they have faith in the potential of the market and consumers’ desire for good quality financial advice. The form this advice will take depends on the type of consumer and many advisers are looking at segmentation of their client bases to address specific needs. The use of technology will be integral to the development of robust IFA businesses in a post-RDR world and we are keen to understand how we can help advisers with this challenge.
“Indeed, we recognise that we need to work closely with financial advisers to help them adapt and develop their businesses. The Aviva Adviser Barometer is a proactive tool for gathering regular feedback from advisers and enables Aviva to provide practical guidance and technical support to advisers, which we do through our website Aviva for Advisers and our support programme ‘Achieve it with Aviva’. Together they give IFAs the information, support and secure product functionality they need, when they need it.”