Technology will be instrumental in helping government and the regulator in their aim to deliver personalised financial guidance and more affordable advice to potentially millions of people in the UK, says Wealth Wizards.
In a recent amendment to the Financial Services and Markets Bill, currently in the House of Lords, Treasury Committee chair Harriett Baldwin MP*, proposed a new ‘personalised financial guidance’ capability in the UK.
To date many financial services firms have shied away from offering guidance due to lack of clarity on what constitutes guidance as against advice. This has restricted offerings in the market. The amendment, if included in the final Bill, would allow guidance to be given to savers and investors which considers their personal circumstances. This would give financial services companies confidence that as long as they do not recommend a specific product or course of action, they would not be considered to be giving regulated advice.
The FCA also has set out proposals for a ‘simplified advice’ regime for stocks and shares ISAs in a bid to make regulated advice more affordable to consumers**. The watchdog’s recent Financial Lives survey found 4.2 million people in the UK held more than £10,000 in cash and are open to investing some of it.
Mark Kiddell, Chief Commercial Officer, Wealth Wizards, comments: “These recent announcements from government and regulator show there is a growing momentum for the financial services industry to address the advice gap and help improve financial wellbeing in the UK.
“The challenge is how to reach as many people as possible in a way that makes business sense for the industry. Wealth Wizards believes the best way to do so is through the use of technology.
“Harriett Baldwin recognised this in her speech to parliament*, when she said: ‘the Bill gives us the opportunity to look once again at the financial advice market and to have more customised guidance because of how technology has evolved’.
Kiddell continues: “Digital guidance and advice tools can be set up by trusted entities, such as financial advice firms, banks, building societies and employers, to provide a personalised, consistent and user-friendly service.
“The tools can deliver a service which aligns with individuals’ personal goals and objectives, at low cost to businesses and at scale.
“Every consumer will have a different saving and investment journey. Guidance can be made personal by asking a series of non-intrusive questions, which allow them to fully understand their current financial situation.
“And by giving consumers the ability to input alternative budget, saving and investment figures, they can ascertain any impact upon their future financial management and wellbeing.
“Also, with digital services available 24/7, people have an accessible, convenient tool from which to share information with any key contacts.
“Those with more complex financial needs can be referred to a financial adviser for more specialist help. We anticipate that as they become more informed, consumers will also start to appreciate the value and necessity for financial advice, particularly around retirement, which will prompt many more people to seek professional help.
“The digital journey can be deployed within providers’ offerings and is the means for them to bring on and serve many more customers.
“The intention of government and regulator is clear, and the industry needs to start aligning its capabilities with the very real opportunities this offers, both for businesses and for the financial wellbeing of UK consumers.”