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Paula Steele: There are an enormous number of people, who are between 45 and 55, looking towards retirement. A lot of them are un-advised. This is partly why we are optimistic. These people are likely to appoint somebody, where before they did everything themselves.
Jarrod Ellis: This year is the tenth anniversary of the run on Northern Rock. The last decade of falling rates have really hit people. Demographically, there are a lot approaching retirement needing to generate income so I think it’s a great time to be in our industry despite the negatives that we’ve always had over the last 30 or 40 years.
Deane Anderson: This is an issue of supply and demand. The demand is huge, although I’m not sure those who need financial advisory services are aware of it. There is more work for us to do – the demand is there and growing. The flip side is that supply has restricted significantly over recent years. That is, in the short term, perhaps a good thing because it provides more of an opportunity for existing advisers. But looking further ahead, there may be fewer new joiners to the industry, which is a bit of an issue. What will happen in 10 or 20 years time? We need to think beyond the short term.
Andy Bracken: The number of referrals that we’ve had over the last year compared to the previous ten years is about the same. I do feel optimistic about those people at the top level in the profession. But there’s going to be a disruptive ‘Nutmeg’-type company for our sector that will attract young clients and we have to accept that there’s going to be a massive change. We need to offer a broad set of skills and help people with their priorities and concerns. Nobody should be complacent as there are huge changes coming. Customers are trying out apps which allow them to log in and connect within five minutes to a new service. These are changing times but overall I’m optimistic.
Mickey Morrissey: Paul, on the platform side, do you see optimism?
Paul Boston: We are very optimistic in the sense of writing new business. There is such a massive need [for financial advice]. Even for my wife and I – we’ve been in the business for 30 years, but we find ourselves seeking advice because the consequences of getting something wrong are so severe.
Mickey Morrissey: Annabel, are you also optimistic at the Association of Investment Companies (AIC)?
Annabel Brodie-Smith: Absolutely. The first thing to say about interest rates is that it has been an absolute boost for the investment company industry. We have a lot of advantages. We have companies with a 50-year record of increasing dividends. In terms of the advisory market, we are working very hard to increase our penetration, and we are seeing record figures every quarter, but still we have so much work to do and I look forward to that.