Advice / Advisers / Industry

Pandemic reveals the essential work of financial advisers

We’ve heard a lot during the global pandemic about our frontline health workers, and the essential role they’ve played in keeping us safe.

Our health has been the primary focus of the fight against COVID-19 – many would argue at the expense of our economy – and these essential workers have rightly been credited for putting themselves at risk for the benefit of others.

Financial advisers may not be considered essential workers in a traditional sense, but for many Australians they’ve provided an essential service. They’ve been working on the frontline to protect our finances, helping Australians navigate the many financial challenges the virus has created.

And with more than a quarter of Australians expecting the crisis to impact their financial situation for up to 18 months or longer, they will continue to be a key fixture in our financial fight against the virus.

CoreData’s COVID-19 Pulse Check data highlights the value of advice in helping Australians navigate the financial challenges of the crisis.

Prior to COVID-19, around two thirds of advice clients told us they’d recommend their adviser (66.7 per cent), however that has jumped to nearly three quarters (74.8 per cent) during the pandemic, with more than four in five (83.4 per cent) agreeing their adviser acts in their best interests.

The increase in advocacy is likely driven in part by the higher frequency of communication between advisers and their clients, leading to higher touch relationships.

Our Q2 Adviser Pulse Check of more than 350 financial advisers found nearly half (47.0 per cent) had experienced an increase in enquiries from existing clients since social distancing restrictions were introduced, while nearly two in five (38.5 per cent) had seen a decline in new client acquisition.

Demand has increased for asset-related advice, driven by market volatility and the financial impact of COVID-19.

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Practices hit hard by COVID-19

But while there are clear positive out workings from the crisis for both consumers and advisers, many practices are shouldering a heavy financial burden from the virus.

Half the Australian advice industry say business revenue has taken a hit (53.3 per cent), with those who have experienced a revenue decline estimating the financial cost to their practice to be more than $90,000 on average over 12 months.

Spending more time servicing existing clients may well improve retention and satisfaction, but it also hampers the ability to get new clients through the door. 

Advisers remain relatively optimistic about the future, however, with two in five (40.5 per cent) expecting an improved business outlook in the next three months, and nearly half (48.4 per cent) forecasting revenue growth in the next 12 months.

While still neutral to negative, the industry outlook has also improved, as COVID-19 highlights the importance of advice.

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With many previously comfortable Australians finding themselves vulnerable to or in financial hardship, greater awareness of the value of advice could in turn spur future demand. But with incomes hit hard and the country in economic recession, on balance advisers are still bracing for tough times ahead, with nearly twice as many expecting the outlook to deteriorate than to improve (35.7 per cent vs. 19.8 per cent).

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