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GrowthInvest | No going back

The ease with which the children have taken to Google classrooms, Zoom meetings and online learning over the last few weeks seems extraordinary, until you realise that they were born into a world where iPhones and video calls were already the norm. The current situation is merely an extension of this and a pretty logical and seamless one to them. Aside from the missed friends and teachers, from a technology perspective this is not a new normal – it’s just normal.

This is, of course, not the case for huge swathes of UK businesses for whom this really will be a watershed moment in a number of ways. This is certainly true for the financial adviser marketplace and ecosystem, where we are now witnessing years of legacy systems and traditional business practices being swept aside in an accelerated tide of digitisation.

Financial advisers, like those in every business sector, have had to quickly adopt new practices in a matter of weeks. Those advisers who can do so the quickest, with the least disruption to their business and clients, have got a real chance to thrive in the coming weeks and months, rather than merely tread water. These are likely to be those who had more fully embraced technology into their businesses, and were more prepared for the current situation than others with robust business continuity plans, employees set up and comfortable with remote working, and a suite of technology solutions that are fit for purpose and fully integrated into the business. Firms that were not already there, now seem to be getting the type of support that they need from their networks and service providers in order to quickly close the gap.

Any business that relies on client relationships and face to face meetings will have been fundamentally impacted, but financial advisers have the ability to use technology to make real positive changes to their businesses over the next twelve months, and use the time saved by travel, conferences, meetings and lunches to really take stock of their business and drive efficiencies into every corner. This will almost certainly mean careful communication with their clients via Zoom or similar platforms, many of whom will be themselves more available and open to discussions. However, it might also mean taking the time to assess new technologies and offerings that could be seamlessly integrated into the business, including a review of entire client investment portfolios, going beyond just the core focus areas.

Advisers have never been better positioned to research, invest and monitor alternative investment portfolios for clients

Tax-efficient and alternative investing has almost certainly not been the focus over the last few weeks for most advisers, and for most advisers it will be relevant for only a small percentage of their wealthier clients, but there is much to commend it as a area of review over the next stage of our nationwide lockdown, not least that great progress has been made over the last few years in improving the accessibility of tax efficient investments, and the means of accessing this. An adviser’s ability to research, invest and report on and monitor client alternative portfolios has never been better, and can now be approached in a similar manner and with the confidence with which advisers look at traditional main market funds.

The importance of uncorrelated (or partly uncorrelated assets) in client portfolios, and how alternatives can play a part, is an important topic and one that merits its own separate discussion. That aside, the ability to consolidate client assets and interact with these as part of a wider portfolio, in a similar manner to that which advisers have become accustomed to over the last two decades on main market independent platforms, is worth a closer look.

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