By Peter Bradshaw, National Accounts Director, Selectapension
The financial services industry is often accused of lack of innovation; however a new initiative by the FCA marks the beginnings of an interesting era for the industry. Project Innovate is the FCA’s way of helping new and existing companies develop different ideas and maximise the potential of working within the financial services sector.
Project Innovate has been instigated at a crucial time for the industry. Against a backdrop of regulatory changes such as RDR and MMR, as well as forthcoming market changes to the at-retirement space, the financial services industry needs to embrace these changes if it is to thrive and flourish. As the FCA is at the forefront of this revolution, it is best-placed to support and encourage businesses though this transitional period and create a positive focus on new ways of working.
As an Adviser-based business at the first meeting of Project Innovate, it is clear to me that Advisers should view this project as a real opportunity to enhance their relationships with clients because it’s evident that customers desperately need the industry to innovate. Advisers need to adapt to new ways of working to be in tune with their client base, especially as younger, tech-savvy generations come up and seek advice. As we increasingly live in a world in which the internet is at our fingertips, new, ‘disruptive technology’ for the financial services industry will be the expectation, not just a ‘nice-to-have’.
As a technology company, we regularly talk about the need for Advisers to allow time to focus on their core relationship-building skills and let software do the heavy lifting. By using online systems, Advisers can illustrate to clients the benefits of having paid-for, professional advice. This is even more important when considering retirement-planning if more clients move away from annuities and instead stay invested in the market. Technology is now a vital tool for Advisers to ensure they are on top of their clients’ pension planning and are recommending the best investment choices possible. Having the right tools in place also helps save time and ensures all investment analyses are recorded for review and compliance purposes.
From what I saw at the Project Innovate meeting, there are lots of great ideas to evolve the financial services market. However, businesses need the confidence to push these plans forward. I am pleased to see such a forward-thinking project from the FCA especially with total access to pension pots just around the corner.
Project Innovate looks like a good start and I hope it gains traction to help improve access and delivery of consistent quality advice.
I look forward to the FCA’s feedback statement later this year.