Investment Trends' King Loong Choi

The demand for advice has doubled in the last five years, with 2.6 million non-advised Australians now saying they intend to seek help from a financial planner in the next two years according to researcher Investment Trends, up from 1.3 million in 2015.

The pandemic has sparked a surge in the need for advice, with half a million more people indicating they intended to seek advice since the 2019 survey, when the figure was 2.1 million.

“Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and volatile markets, a record number of non-advised Australians realise they need professional financial advice,” said Investment Trends senior analyst King Loong Choi. “Among these potential advised clients, the pandemic has been a major catalyst, with 44% saying the COVID-19 situation had increased their likelihood of seeking advice.”

The Investment Trends 2020 Financial Advice Report, concluded in July 2020, was based on a survey of 4,501 Australian adults.

While the results support the notion that a large slice of unadvised Australians want financial advice, the research indicates that most potential clients are more likely to pay for limited or scaled advice than full comprehensive services.

Choi noted that while potential clients “overwhelmingly” prefer to receive comprehensive advice over limited advice (76 per cent over 35 per cent), the preference for limited advice “markedly” increases when cost is factored in.

“Still, there are opportunities to transition those who want limited advice to a holistic advice offering, since the vast majority of potential clients (61 per cent) are open to upgrading to comprehensive advice over time,” the analyst added.

Richard Jackson, an adviser at Richard Jackson and Associates, says a lot of the increased demand is due to demographics. “The Boomers are retiring and increasing numbers of them have had super for 30 years or so,” he tells Professional Planner.

The compliance burden

According to Stickman Wealth adviser Berin Delforce, increased demand for advice is a good sign but only translates into more advice for Australians if there is a regulatory framework that supports the delivery of that advice.

“Currently we have an overburden of compliance, regulatory oversight and body membership requirements,” Delforce says.

Policy makers do have a hard job in shepherding the advice industry into a profession, the adviser says, but more needs to be done to minimise the compliance burden.

“The cost to serve our clients increases, meaning that people who need advice can’t get it even though the demand may be there,” he says.

Reaching out to clients

Advisers have stepped up during the pandemic and increased their level of engagement with clients, according to the report, with three in four existing advice clients having been in contact with their adviser to discuss the impact of the pandemic by July this year.

Clients reported that most commonly it was their adviser that reached out to them (49 per cent), while 24 per cent said they were the ones to reach out.

“Most financial planners have proactively engaged with their clients during this period,” Choi said, noting that the market volatility of March and April was a typical catalyst.

The proactive engagement was well broadly received; the report says clients who initiated first contact typically reported lower satisfaction levels (56 per cent) than those whose whose adviser reached out to them first (73 per cent).

Jackson says he pro-actively contacted his clients during the early months of the pandemic and, in most cases, adjusted portfolios. “These actions were very well-received,” he adds.

When advisers do reach out, Choi said, it needs to be through the channels that are most in demand right now.

“In light of the lockdowns, just a third of advised clients still insist on receiving face-to-face review meetings (down from 48 per cent in 2019),” he explained. “Appetite for alternative, socially distanced regular reviews has substantially increased.”

Delforce agrees, and says newer, alternative channels of engagement are linked to the continued demand for holistic advice.

“The face of advice is changing and the engagement methodology is changing,” Delforce says. “Social collaboration and more entrepreneurial approaches have been taken through the use of digital marketing and social media, bringing awareness.”

Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning. Contact at [email protected]
2 comments on “Advice demand doubles in 5 years”
  1. Avatar Jeremy Wright

    Following on from Graham, There are a minimum 12 million Australians and one million Businesses that need advice around their Life and disability Insurance needs, which equates to 433 clients per risk adviser if we had 30,000 risk advisers to look after them.

    It is estimated there are currently less than 3000 risk advisers in Australia and that number is declining every day due to the Life Insurance Framework ( LIF ) and FASEA regulations and unworkable requirements that are squeezing the life out of the advisers who work in this area.

    Clearly, we have a problem.

    5 years ago, prior to the Regulatory “improvements” that are killing the Life Insurance Industry today, the Industry was profitable.

    Today and 100 percent due to LIF and FASEA, the advised life risk Industry is dying.

    The need for advice has never been greater and yet the reality is, that for risk specialists, they can no longer build their Businesses and are in actual fact, for most of them, looking for the exit.

    This is a classic case of be careful of what you wish for and if, as an Industry, issues are not dealt with properly and Government becomes involved, the consequences will be much worse, as Government are incapable of doing things in a manner that has a semblance of commercial reality.

    Because of declining New Business, due mostly to the unworkable restrictions of trade imposed on risk advisers, the Life Industry now finds that claims are rising higher than new clients are coming onto the books. ( We warned this would happen and were ignored )

    The solution the Life Companies have come up with, is to increase premiums by up to 25%, which of course leads to higher lapses and the merry go round continues.

    It is such a simple fix, yet it appears there is no-one in the Life Insurance Industry and definitely no-one in Government or the Regulators that has a clue.

    Once again, experienced advisers have outlaid the issues and come up with clear, concise solutions and as true to form, have been ignored.

    This has become an epidemic of stupidity in Australia and unless it changes, the Australian economy will continue to decline and millions of Australians will go from middle class, to lower class at no fault of their own.

  2. Avatar Graham Hutton

    Once upon a time it was easier to provide advice to those with reduced capacity / desire to pay, it was called “commission”. Life commissions are evil as we have discovered courtesy of messers Trowbridge and Hayne, so all of those clients who once were no worse off (Than they are in a post Hayne world) for having an advised product are now not only dealing with higher premiums, reduced benefits and no access to even rudimentary risk advice now have to muddle along on their own, and hope for the best when dealing with second rate (definitions and price) insurance products offered via daytime TV ads.
    I wonder if a general insurance actuary and retired lawyer actually have even the slightest idea of what is ‘ was involved in the advice implementation process for life insurance. It is the ultimate irony that “Ambulance chasers” are advertising for clients to come forth with their claims , which in many cases wouldn’t require any input from a lawyer.
    The state we find ourselves in is not as a result of any (widespread) wrongdoing by advisers , we already know the excuse for the LIF review was a fit up, there was no systemic , widespread churning, and while there are always bad apples in many walks of life, Financial Services isn’t IMHO over represented. The issue there is the scale of some of these crooks. I am also unconvinced that the (increased) level of compliance will weed out crooks, it might have the reverse affect where decent , honest players figure it’s all too hard and walk away.

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