Focus Solutions’ Head Of Managed Services, Steve Andrews, discusses what he learned on day one of A Festival of Financial Planning…
1) The industry has one eye on the future.
There are plenty of different themes to A Festival of Financial Planning, but the future of the industry and how advisers are going to embrace technology — both from a marketing point of view and a regulatory one — is one that stands out. We are in the midst of a number of changes that regulators are implementing which will affect different parts of the Industry. You’ve got advisers who need tools to engage and deliver different services to their customers, and then you’ve got product providers and platforms who have got to deliver technology to support advisers in delivering that advice. There’s always going to be a backdrop of regulatory change it’s just at the moment, with MiFID II and GDPR looming, there is fair amount to negotiate at one time.
I think many advisers are looking at how they can deliver their services more efficiently by embracing technology.
How are the platforms and the investment and pension providers upgrading their technology to enable advisers to deliver more advice, and better advice, in the future?
2) MiFID II and GDPR means advisers are embracing technology like never before.
Over the next six to eight months MiFID is a big piece of change for platforms, discretionary fund managers (DFMs) and advisers, and there will be a period of embedding to go through with technology essential to meeting MiFid requirements. Through that embedding period, further enhancements to technology will look to improve efficiencies in the ongoing monitoring and delivery of reporting to clients. That is a big change. Moving forward with GDPR, advisers are having to come to terms with how they manage their data whilst welcoming innovation into their practices. The other thing I’ve noticed about this event is that people are looking at how they can evolve their practices.
Many financial planners have become chartered and are now delivering cash flow planning activities and other services; how they continue to build on their services and client offering is a really hot topic here. Certainly on the stand today we have had a lot of interest around cash flow and firms looking at how they can embed that as a key service within their financial services practice.
3) This event is about advisers and that is why we’re passionately behind it.
The purpose of A Festival of Financial Planning is to support highly qualified advisory firms and advisers in general. It’s not about supporting their robo replacements, which is why we were very keen to be here. It’s about how technology can enhance what advisers do on a day-to-day basis, which is to ultimately give critical advice on financial planning to individuals, families, and businesses.
That tension between technology and flesh and blood advise is palpable, but this event supports Focus’ belief that tech is there to support advisers, not replace them.
It’s about how advisers can really use technology to take their advice to another level and to a broader sector of the market. It’s not about replacing them, it’s about how technology can really enhance what they do very well today.
4) Cash flow planning is very topical.
Advisers are looking to embrace cash flow processes in a number of different ways. Whether that’s an overall holistic financial plan or to support activities like defined benefit (DB) to defined contribution (DC) transfers, having the tools and technology to analyse the best way forward for the customer in those situations, is something that has arisen on our stand today. Transferring out of a defined benefit pension scheme is really topical at the moment and how tools like our cash flow modeller can support that has been a point of conversation. We’re starting to hear more and more about digital and elements of digital that firms can start to embrace to provide better advice, and that is music to our ears! Whether that’s the up front engagement bit or ongoing servicing of a client, the audience here today has been incredibly engaged with the opportunity to use technology as a catalyst for better advice.
5. The advisor community is becoming more digitally aware.
I think you can see that in the themes people are talking about today, whether that’s the incoming regulatory change or the technological evolution of the industry, there’s no getting away from it. I think the outside influence of new competitors, from non-traditional entrants to the market, the fintech influx, the robospace movement and other companies looking to bring out semi-robo propositions, has really compelled advisers to look at how they are going to compete in this ever-evolving adviser world.
It’s definitely bringing a microscope over the adviser community and it’s driving change that little bit faster. From a technology point of view we’re very happy about that; we like change and we like delivering technology to play a key part in adviser businesses. And to ultimately make them even more highly professional and profitable organisations.