Engage Year End Review

It’s been a busy year for my consultancy and indeed a while since we’ve posted here. We’ve seen some really interesting results from our market surveys, CPD accredited business/people development programmes, client centricity and consultancy work.

As we’ve continued to support adviser and planner firms in the market, one of my favourite Chinese proverbs springs to mind “Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still…” and so we have seen some really good strategic planning from firms who are keen to work towards integrating technology within their client servicing models. You can download our adviser firm benchmark survey here.

Our blog on developing a simplified advice model covers the key issues we have supported firms with this year and although challenging, if these challenges are thought through with care, there are big benefits in streamlining the advice process and segmenting the client bank further. More on this here.

What we have also found is an opening of firms owners minds to advancing client meeting skills and incorporating behavioural science tools and techniques to ‘get under the bonnet’ of client decision making and allowing meaningful and insightful client conversations to be had. This with developing leadership skills within corporate governance and management information capabilities has armed firms with key soft skills to allow better client and stakeholder relationships. More on this here.

With radical change in mind the change in pension rules has seen plenty of activity and excitement in alternative offerings to annuity. The time I spent in Asia and Australia taught me (as the Chinese proverb says) that it’s best to go slowly, understand the risks and the opportunities before acting.

An example is we have supported a pension transfer specialist business focus on digitising their proposition and move upmarket. This has meant taking on more resources to staff a systemised approach and develop a ‘middle office’ Centralised Investment Proposition (CIP) so clients have easy access to information over the phone or online first before making the choice to sit down with a planner. But there is caution in developing a fully-fledged face-to-face planning proposition until product providers step up with suitable products and technology is built to blend transfer value analysis with annuity options and drawdown capability.

With this particular opportunity it is clear that there is much to do at the de-accumulation phase with advice and product manufacturing in mind, Cashflow apps, multi-asset protector funds, UCITS and higher risk graded portfolio’s are solutions we see firms currently look at. This is due to the ‘U’ shaped income needs forecast at retirement, with initial higher income requirements which fall then come back with potential long term care issues.

Annuities also shouldn’t be written off, our prediction is a they will be used tactically with a blend of deferred, fixed term and variable annuities used to manage loss aversion and income along with drawdown products.

So here’s to 2015 a year of industry technical and behavioural innovation and change in the market where digital communications, move of legacy biz and client segmentation to clean charging structures and more outsourcing will take a precedence. In the meantime we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year..