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'Fundamental' shift in clients' financial plans – IFA survey


Covid-19 has “fundamentally” shifted clients attitudes towards their Financial Planning – with many changing their retirement and wealth transfer plans, according to a new survey.

The study by wealth manager Charles Stanley, which interviewed 203 IFAs, also found that worried clients were contacting their advisers outside normal working hours to seek reassurance.

More than half (52%) of financial advisers reported a “marked increase in out of hours contact with clients” as attitudes towards personal finance shifted in the wake of Covid-19.

Among the findings from the survey were:

• 70% of advisers say they have seen an increase in concern from clients over funding later life

• 63% have seen an increase in concerns around income generation and early retirement (61%)

• 64% of clients were concerned about pension drawdown

The survey also found that 28% of clients wanted to discus delaying life events, such as downsizing, and the same percentage of clients said they were under greater financial pressure.

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Supporting family members financially is high on the agenda for clients with more than one in five (22%) advisers saying this has been a key topic for discussion.

More than 1 in 5 clients 22% have asked advisers about delaying retirement due to financial uncertainty.

Nearly half of advisers (47%) reported that clients had asked for a significant level of detail on their investments and performance.

The research coincides with the launch of Charles Stanley’s new white paper ‘Book of Stories 2.0’, which gives advisers an insight into how to navigate intergenerational wealth transfer and engage the next generation of clients.

According to Charles Stanley 2020 has been a pivotal year “fundamentally” altering the adviser conversation, pushing estate planning and the transfer of wealth to the next generation higher up clients’ priority list, according to over half (55%) of advisers.  

In terms of advice requests, the survey found more interest in advice from younger people with over two thirds (68%) of advisers saying they have seen more engagement with younger audiences.

A quarter (23%) of advisers say there has been greater appetite for ESG/sustainable investing from clients and families have found it easier to discuss Financial Planning together digitally (19%.)

More than seven in ten (72%) advisers predict their clients will be more active and engaging in their finances in the months ahead.

John Porteous, group head of distribution, Charles Stanley, said: “It’s been a difficult year for many, with financial plans and investments thrown off course by the market turbulence and the economic impacts of Covid. It’s at times like this that financial advice really pays dividends and our survey suggests this is translating into a surge in demand among advisers.

“During 2020 advisers have been quick to adapt to “the new normal” pivoting high touch, face to face business models to be able to serve a more diverse client set remotely.  And while this has undoubtedly placed a lot of pressure on them, it’s also arguably left them better equipped for the new adviser conversation which is fast emerging.  As we go into 2021, finding new ways to serve an engaged, intergenerational audience will be a priority to meet their differing attitudes and requirements.”

• Research was undertaken by Censuswide among 203 UK IFAs in October and early November.

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