EV Insights 2024 - Innovating Financial Planning with Andrew Storey

Andrew Storey, Group Innovation Director at EV, shares his thoughts on anticipated industry innovations over the upcoming 12 months.

What are the biggest opportunities for the industry in 2024?

“I believe there is a huge opportunity awaiting our industry this year. By leveraging modern technology and enhanced regulatory frameworks, we have the chance to improve the quality of financial advice and guidance. Embracing hybrid advice solutions presents a promising avenue, allowing organisations to streamline processes and reach a broader spectrum of clients. This not only helps facilitate more efficient operations, but engages new clients and nurtures stronger relationships with existing ones. 

We also have an opportunity to refine our approach to income advice to guide clients towards positive outcomes. One way to do this is by using risk rating methodologies to determine the optimal balance between guaranteed and flexible income options. By doing so, we can enhance financial security and boost client satisfaction in the process”

And what are the biggest risks?

“As service providers, our priority is the best interests of our clients. We understand that even the best advice processes can sometimes fall short, leading to unintended biases and unfavourable outcomes for our clients. 

Rest assured, we’re committed to enhancing our processes to safeguard against such risks. By maintaining a proactive approach and continuously refining our practices, we aim to ensure that our clients consistently receive the best possible service and outcomes.”

How will innovation impact financial planning in 2024?

“Planning for retirement can be daunting, so ensuring a comfortable and secure future for each individual is essential. By identifying the best retirement options and products, we can take a step towards making their golden years stress-free. With the advent of AI and digital advice technology, we can now offer more personalised and efficient financial planning services, providing individuals with the peace of mind they crave and deserve.

What future changes will customers likely want from technology?

“I believe we can break this into three main areas. Firstly, we need to ensure that decisions are based on solid evidence and predictions rather than blind optimism and that we can test outcomes under different scenarios to ensure their effectiveness. Secondly, we need to improve the efficiency of both guidance and advice delivery. And finally, we need to provide a seamless customer experience by maintaining consistency throughout the planning journey, from guidance to advice. This can be achieved by exploring new channels that can provide additional customers with low-cost advice or more suitable financial products.”

What new or existing challenges do our customers want to focus on? 

"In today's business environment, developing efficient user journeys and enhancing the overall service provision experience is a crucial challenge. It requires a deep understanding of the customer's needs and preferences and recognising the various touch points they will encounter during their journey.

Another significant challenge is providing effective financial guidance to individuals, especially when preparing for retirement. This is crucial for ensuring financial wellness and cash flow management. By assisting customers in improving their financial situation, businesses can pave the way for additional advice and support, such as investment or retirement planning.

Businesses must take a proactive approach by offering personalised advice and support tailored to each customer's needs. This may involve utilising advanced technologies such as AI to analyse customer data and provide insights to help customers make more informed financial decisions.

Ultimately, the key to success in both areas is a customer-centric approach that places the needs of the individual at the forefront. By doing so, businesses can build stronger customer relationships and enhance their overall service provision experience, thus positively impacting people's lives."

Are there any market trends the industry needs to be aware of?

“Amidst the fast-paced evolution of our industry, smaller and more agile companies are crafting revolutionary technology solutions. These innovations have the power to transform industries and inspire change in established providers. By connecting with customers on a deeper level, these solutions are reshaping the future of our industry and the world around us”

On reflection, what were the biggest surprises of 2023?

“It's amazing to see the industry's eagerness to improve and overcome the obstacles new regulations present. The FCA's ideas for reducing the advice gap and providing better support to consumers have been received with great interest, particularly the idea of allowing clients to choose the optimal combination of drawdown and guaranteed income. It's inspiring to witness companies' commitment to enhancing their processes with hybrid advice.”

To recap - do you have any other comments?

“They say we overestimate what we can achieve in a year but underestimate what we can achieve in the longer term. Many technological advances this year don’t have an immediate impact, but they will slowly but surely change the landscape. All generations are doomed to repeat, “It wasn’t like that in my day”, but I don’t think we will have to wait as long as people think to be able to say that with conviction.”

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