Some weeks the initial whimsy just defeats you. In a world of government by bantz, where auto-satire is somehow all good, where there are no surprises and where everything everyone said would happen is now happening, where does a humble Updater turn? Probably to the whisky bottle, that’s where – and a bit more on that below.

Talking of building back b****r, as you may know we have our big annual census of the advisory and planning profession out live in the field at the moment – thanks to the hundreds who have already responded and please, please, please if you haven’t found the time to do so would you be so kind as to give us your wisdom?

I was having a wee scan over some of the preliminary results, and here’s something that caught my eye. Unlike last year, we only asked one question about the pandemic, and that was about future plans in terms of whether things would go back to fully face-to-face.

Pretty much everyone reckons that things won’t go back to how they were. Only 10%-ish of respondents plan to do “almost all” initial meetings in person. That drops to about 8% for factfinding and the first big, proper doing-business meeting, and down to around 5% for reviews. Around half of firms reckon the majority of those first two meetings will still be in person, but only just over a third (so far) reckon the majority of annual reviews will be in person.

On the one hand: who cares? We all know remote advice has worked perfectly well over the last year and a half, and advice firms are buzzing generally with opportunity. But at the same time, if this is really going to stick, then the industry (that collection of footpads and vagabonds who try to support the profession) can crack on with building better tools for remote meeting, factfinding, onboarding and reviewing than exist currently. There has always been a reticence to really have at this, mainly because the basic unit of advice has always been face-to-face, and so a blank sheet of A4 is as powerful as a bunch of clever tech.

But if that is changing, the business case will start to make sense for tech firms to really crack on and think about how they can build flexible, integrated tools that allow firms to give advice in the way they want, branded how they want, while providing an online experience which is genuinely enjoyable (for a given value of enjoyable, this is finance after all) for both the client and the advice firm. Why not? If we can build investing apps that literally have people needing counselling because they’re so addictive, why can’t we do this?

Some are on the bus already, of course – look to how True Potential works, how CashCalc (now part of FE fundinfo) uses online factfinding, and how Advicefront works for onboarding as examples. But there’s room for much, much more.

Anyway, by the time we’re done with the 2021/22 State Of The Adviser Nation we may have completely different answers, and that will depend on you. So do please weigh in. All respondents will get a lovely playback of the results, and there will be ADDITIONAL CAT TREATS which I’ll tell you more about in due course because we haven’t got everything sorted yet, but which will be cool. Please click here and spend a bit of time putting the world to rights. Thanks.

LINK BACK, BALLER

  • I mentioned whisky up above, and one of the reasons I did is that we’ve got a really different HomeGames session planned for next week. It’s not an industry thing – instead we have Julie Trevisan-Hunter, who’s Marketing Director of the Scotch Whisky Experience on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, and a leading light in the whisky industry. Why have a session like this? Well, first of all Julie is awesome, and secondly the parallels between what we all do and an industry where you make a product that won’t return much of anything for up to 10 or 15 years is pretty interesting. So open your mind up to something different and come and join us next week – Wednesday at 12.30pm.
  • I don’t need to sell this week’s guest so hard – Rob Stevenson from Kingmakers knows more about consolidation in the advisory sector than anyone, and will be sharing his wisdom with us all today. Here’s where you join in – or later on YouTube.
  • A last one from us (lots from us this week, sorry about that) – it’s also quarterly platform review time and we need to know who’s rocked your world and who’s done very much the opposite. I know we have two research exercises live at the same time, but once a year this happens and it’s just one of those things – as ever, thank you in advance for your help. Give your praise and brickbats here.
  • Rebrand news – first it was Abrdn, then Ascentric moving to M&G Wealth, and now we await what the refreshed Standard Life brand will look like. I can’t keep up. Can you keep up? I can’t.
  • And your music choice this week – well, it just feels like a Floyd week. Here’s Pigs On The Wing, with the lesser-known Snowy White guitar solo.

See you next week

Mark