Greetings. Mike here with your regular dose of Wednesday goodness. It is nice to see you all.
Why is Mike on the Update this week I hear you ask? Well, Mark is obviously a busy man, the TCWU budget can no longer afford TV’s Steve Nelson, and more importantly I’ve got something (hopefully) interesting to tell you all about. Grab your lunchtime beverage of choice and we’ll begin….
Earlier this morning we published our latest research, produced in conjunction with Royal London, looking at the topic of value. Royal London is keen to lead the debate around what consumers actually value from their financial products and services, and how well the regulatory environment is supporting firms to meet these needs. Naturally we were delighted to help with this quest, and you can download the full results of the exercise here.
The report contains consumer and adviser research, both of which were conducted in the last month or so. As usual, a huge thank you to the advice professionals from our Insight Panel who took part in this exercise, especially the ones who were unfortunate enough to speak with me instead of drawing my esteemed colleagues Kate, Natalie or TV’s Steve Nelson.
Whoever you are, whatever you do, it is important to understand what your customers value. Value is subjective and will change depending on the context and appeal of a product or service. I drive a Dacia <insert your favourite Isle of Wight joke here> but shop at Waitrose. As individuals, we all make these value judgements throughout our lives, but in a world where the regulator now requires all firms to evidence fair value, we wanted to understand what aspects consumers consider when deciding if something is or isn’t of value. So, we asked a representative sample of the population exactly that.
One of the clearest findings reinforces the point that value cannot be defined by price alone. For some consumers it is important, and for some it is the most important thing, but for a larger proportion it is about getting a sense of worth, and for the product or service delivering the expected benefits.
There are some interesting comparisons to be made between the consumer and adviser research. In the main, adviser views on what their clients value are closely correlated with the consumer research. Trust, peace of mind and clear communications are highlighted by consumers as aspects they value from their advisers, and the adviser research recognises this. The one area of potential misalignment is investment performance. Whilst most advisers recognise this has some importance when clients are deciding whether their advice services are of value, 50% of consumers who have paid for investment advice say it is the most important thing to them.
This inevitably leads us to the subject of Consumer Duty. The research shows that, in the main, advice firms are supportive of the aims of Consumer Duty, and indeed have found it a worthwhile exercise. However, many are struggling to evidence fair value in the manner that is expected. It is relatively easy if you focus on tangible measures such as price and/or investment performance, but our consumer research shows that this isn’t what most consumers value. They use an adviser to give them peace of mind, to protect their loved ones, and to ensure a comfortable life. The regulator recognises this as part of the Consumer Duty guidance, but more should be done to help firms understand good (and poor) practices in this space.
Anyway, the word limit is getting near, and I’ve only scratched the surface of what we’ve covered in the full report. We hope you find it interesting, and thanks again to Royal London for making it all happen.
THE LINKS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ANY OF THOSE TENNIS PLAYERS EITHER
And you’ll find them below. To close, your music choice for this week. I wasn’t expecting Corrine Bailey Rae to be behind one of my favourite albums of the year, but here we are. Black Rainbows is simply stunning. This is “New York Transit Queen”, from a recent “later with Jools Holland”. Oh, and Consumer Duty band? I’ll pay good money to see you play this at your next gig…