The lasting effects of lockdown

9 July 2020
New challenges, fresh ideas and how the future looks.

It’s no secret the adviser community has been hugely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing measures mean they’ve been unable to have face-to-face meetings with clients. And they’ve also experienced challenges when it comes to generating new business as people are currently reluctant to make new financial commitments.

Almost 70% of advisers said they expected a return to business as usual within three months of the end of COVID-19.

However, in a recent survey we conducted with advisers, the signs are that advisers remain resilient in the face of these challenges.

While recognising a fall in new business volumes, almost 70% of advisers said they expected a return to business as usual within three months of the end of COVID-19. Only 10% of those questioned thought it would take more than six months for business to return to normal - so there’s much room for optimism.

Clients are demanding more contact with their adviser

While new business volumes may be depressed, many advisers are experiencing an increased demand for their services from their current client base. Around 60% of the advisers we spoke to said inbound client contact had increased by up to 25% during the crisis.

Around 60% of the advisers we spoke to said inbound client contact had increased by up to 25% during the crisis.

Many of these clients are looking for reassurance around what is happening to their investments, while some have seen an increase in queries relating to products such as income protection. Some advisers have also reported that some of their clients are looking to take advantage of low prices to boost their investments.

Advisers are finding new ways to deliver their services

Whatever the driver is behind the demand for increased contact, advisers have been adapting their working practices so they can continue to support their clients. For instance, our research showed some advisers had taken to issuing weekly emails with market updates. Such communications are important in providing reassurance during these turbulent times.

We are also seeing advisers making use of platforms such as Microsoft Teams to keep in contact with their clients during lockdown. Others have been moving their processes online to get around issues such as needing to print documents or get wet signatures.

Advisers have been adapting their working practices so they can continue to support their clients.

This is something that providers such as ourselves must continue to respond to if we’re to give advisers the support they need. Indeed, while other providers struggled to deal with the increased call volumes at the start of the crisis we’re proud that we were able to get 98% of our workforce working from home within days of lockdown. This made sure we were able to service adviser queries and help them do business as efficiently as possible.

Despite the challenges, there are lots of good news stories

Not only are advisers finding new ways to support their clients during these uniquely challenging times, we’ve also seen many examples within the adviser community of advisers stepping up, pulling together and going above and beyond for the communities in which they live and work.

As a provider that champions the value of advice, we hope to use our platform to help share some of these stories in the near future.

The lasting changes we expect to see

The COVID-19 pandemic is unquestionably one of the most challenging periods that many of us will have worked through. However, important lessons have been learned and advisers have quickly adapted to the situation so they can continue to support their clients.

These lessons will have a lasting impact on how this industry does business in future. While face to face interaction will continue to be an important part of the adviser experience it’s likely that media such as video calling will grow as another way of keeping in touch.

It is also highly unlikely that advisers will revert back to using paper quite so much and the use of wet signatures will continue to decline. This is something that providers must also be aware of and we must be ready to continue to offer this support, even after life returns to normal.

Similarly we need to provide advisers with the tools they need to help them make the most of new business opportunities as we emerge from lockdown. For instance, our drawdown governance service and financial planning tool can help advisers conduct online client reviews efficiently, while our downloadable reports can be delivered remotely.

As we start to emerge from lockdown we will see demand for advice start to increase again. However, the ways this advice will be accessed will have evolved as advisers put the lessons they have learned during lockdown into practice.

Tom Dunbar
RLI Distribution Director

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About the author

Tom Dunbar

Distribution Director

Tom is responsible for Royal London Intermediary distribution of protection, individual pensions and workplace pensions. He was previously Group Strategy Director at Royal London. Before Royal London, Tom was a Partner at NMG Consulting where he provided strategy advice on where to play and how to compete to insurers, platforms and asset managers in the UK and international markets. Tom holds a first class degree in Chemistry from Oxford.

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The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 117672. It provides life assurance and pensions. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.