Consumer Duty has encouraged all firms to reflect on their advice process, their charging structure and just generally how they do things. And it’s been no different for us here at The Verve Group. Over the course of the last few months, we have been inundated asking how we are going to make our reports more ‘Consumer Duty compliant’. And we’ve responded and made some pretty epic changes! Consumer Duty does impact more than just your reports, but as your outsourced paraplanners this is where our focus has been.
So when reviewing our reports, instead of focusing solely on length (though it was a consideration) we’ve focused on how to make all of the salient information really pop for the client to help them digest and understand it, without the message being diluted by all the other bits of data provided in a suitability report.
Our conclusion was that all of that information didn’t NEED to be in a report. Yes, you need to analyse the suitability of a ceding scheme and yes you need to do research on a provider and explain why you’ve chosen them. However, all the client needs to know is that you’ve done this work (kept it on file) and that your advice is suitable for them based on their objectives.
The result of this is that we’ve massively reduced our client-facing reports and instead focused on making sure that our advice files are more robust and full of relevant information. Meaning you can share with the client if you feel it necessary – but it does not all get stuffed into the report, in order to bamboozle, distract or frankly, bore the client into a data-driven coma. For example, tell your client in the report that the cashflow supports your advice to meet their objective, but don’t put the actual cashflow in there. Keep it separately so they’re not scrolling over 5 pages and 100 graphs including a monte carlo scenario to get to the relevant information which is – CAN I RETIRE NOW OR NOT?!
Remember that a suitability report is judged on how well it’s read, not how well it’s written. Make sure to ditch technical jargon as it doesn’t enhance a client’s reading experience.
Our reports were already packed full of tables, colours, icons and digital enhancements to really help understanding, but the main focus will always just be on ensuring that it’s relevant to the client and they understand that your advice will help them achieve what they want to achieve. That’s our business isn’t it really? That’s what it all comes down to.
So, use tables, graphs, colours, use Word Editor, increase passive sentences, use smaller words and sentences, let your granny read it and understand it and as long as it’s relevant, this will help you with nailing the consumer understanding part of Consumer Duty.
We’ve got a sample that you can find here if you scroll down and find the ‘Freebies’ section, but if you have any questions about the new templates, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line at email@example.com.