What’s worrying you? Don’t worry, we’ve got some solutions

It’s always interesting to read surveys that explore what financial advisers are finding challenging and how their businesses are being impacted by events outside their control.

I found the last Schroders Financial Adviser Survey particularly interesting. The list of concerns and challenges was comprehensive: worry about the potential for clients to suffer capital loss; fear of new regulation; cost of PI Insurance, pressure on fees etc.

Remember when Zoom was an iced lolly?

Some of the issues raised were a direct result of the pandemic. For example, just one in 20 (6%) said they expect to conduct all their meetings face-to-face in the future (when we return to ‘normal’).

This is a seismic change to how things were in 2019 when digital client meetings were little more than a dream for the CEOs of the video conferencing companies. Before the pandemic hit, the word Zoom meant a multi-coloured iced lolly to most people.

Finding new clients

Another pandemic-specific issue highlighted in the survey was around finding new clients. Almost half (45%) listed it as a headache. This was something we picked up on last year; we worked with experts and gathered a wealth of published information to put together a paper designed to help advisers called ‘How to Grow Your Business During Lockdown’.

So far, our paper has been downloaded by 350 advisers and featured in both FT Adviser & MoneyMarketing. The feedback we’ve had has been extremely positive. Although Covid restrictions in the UK are gradually being eased, it does look like it will be a while before advisers can return to normal in terms of meeting prospective clients in person, so I’m sure our paper will continue to be relevant for a while. It’s free to download (just click on the title above), so please do take a look.

Greener pastures

No survey would be complete without asking about ESG. 2020 saw a huge increase in interest in this topic, with the media and investment providers focusing resources on providing information (and products) centred around sustainable and greener investing.

The survey highlighted that around three quarters (74%) of advisers consider ESG in their selection process but many lack full confidence discussing it with clients.

This is not a surprise. How ESG investing is discussed with clients requires sensitive handling. Without careful preparation, the questions asked could well lead to investments that are at odds with what clients really want.

Addressing topics that may not have been considered in great detail before – whether that is third world labour, single-use packaging or the impact of fossil fuels on the environment – can lead to a crisis in confidence about long-held beliefs. It could also create investment expectations that are difficult to achieve and that may not align with the financial expectations of individual clients.

To help advisers gain confidence around ESG, we published ‘ESG in Investing: everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask’. Like our other white papers, it’s free to download, so why not take a look and let us have your feedback via engagement@portfoliometrix.co.uk.