As I arrived in London for #Evolution2023 I was greeted by a big poster reminding me to ‘mind the gap’, something I would later be chatting to my wonderful panel about… well, the advice gap that is!
To follow the mighty Abraham Okusanya who sang and danced his way through his presentation was a tough job but, I think, our expert panel kept the pace going whilst giving their views on such a hot topic!
I was joined by Clare Moffat – Head of Technical and Marketing Compliance at Royal London, Dan Marsh – Head of Adviser Accelerator and VP of Corporate Development at Octopus and Nicola Flannigan – Consultant at Altus Consulting.
In the same format as the earlier panel – A Different Approach to Financial Education, the opening question – “there are many factors contributing to the advice gap – which one do you think has the biggest impact?” – was posed to each of our guests in turn.
In Clare’s experience, one of the biggest issues facing women, in particular, is the gender pension gap – factors such as working patterns, career breaks, caring responsibilities and menopause all contribute to women having far less opportunity for pension savings than men.
I think one of the scariest things about this situation is that so many women are completely unaware of these disadvantages; many don’t have access to the education and advice needed to ensure they plan for their future, taking into account these pitfalls where possible.
Dan covered the idea of designing services really carefully for specific groups, making advice more accessible and suitable, particularly in line with Consumer Duty. And it wouldn’t be a discussion about the advice gap without the mention of technology! Essentially, the more efficient we can make the advice process, the more cost-effective it becomes and the more people we as an industry can reach. There are, of course, a lot more factors that come into play, but I think leveraging technology is going to be one of the key ways to help us close the gap.
For Nicola, it boils down to education and confidence. People don’t necessarily understand what financial advice is or why it’s needed, and that lack of understanding can cause a lack of trust. She explained that “people do not trust what they do not understand. Lack of trust and understanding therefore lends itself to a lack of confidence, which in turn means people are not exploring the options available to them or asking the right questions to the professionals, for fear of getting it wrong or looking naïve.” She mentioned the educational material that’s available, but if people aren’t aware of its existence, don’t understand why they might need it or don’t have the confidence to go out and seek it, then it’s not going to have any impact.
So, we need to start with perceptions. Break down the stereotypes, show a more diverse industry, talk more openly about money, and spread your knowledge. Even small acts such as talking to friends about money and getting our children involved in household finances can add up to a greater understanding of money and the world of advice. And I truly believe that if everyone did something, we could have such a big impact on helping to close the advice gap.
Hayley Rabbets, Head of The Verve Foundation