The Retail Distribution Review (RDR) is starting to have a positive impact on public perception and is encouraging more people to consider seeking advice, according to the latest consumer survey from the Personal Finance Society (PFS).
However, the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has warned of the ‘increasing need’ to educate the public on the value of face-to-face professional financial advice and, given the high importance respondents placed in web research, advisers are being encouraged to consider increasing their online presence.
Personal Finance Society head of policy and research Laurence Baxter said: “The report continues to support the view that there is a large, latent demand for advice. The challenge is, as ever, engaging with this potential demand and creating awareness of the benefits of advice in the post-RDR environment.
Baxter said: “However, advisers who have little or no web ‘footprint’ may find it increasingly difficult to gain and retain the attention of consumers who have an interest in researching and monitoring their investments.
“They may also find other businesses attracting the attention of existing clients.
Personal Finance Society chief executive Keith Richards said: “Whilst the profession and commentators have logically been focused on the impact of change, we believe that the true benefit of the RDR is yet to be acknowledged – with the emergence of a financial advice market that is more professional and trusted.
“This will take time, but better qualified advisers, providing more transparent services and remuneration practices, will succeed in bringing about much needed improvements to public and regulatory confidence.
Nearly half of advised respondents thought their trust and confidence in the sector had improved as a result of the RDR changes, while 35% of unadvised consumers said they would consider advice as a result of the changes introduced by RDR.
The survey involved a sample of 2,038 consumers in England, Scotland and Wales and was conducted between 4 and 5 December 2013.