The economics are no longer stacking up as more advisors shift services towards wealthier clients. But there is a societal cost.
New research from Canada Life suggests that services for sub-£100,000 ($120,449) investors are eroding as advisors search for better margins elsewhere. Polling 250 advisors in June, the investment house found that a majority (57 per cent) can no longer afford to take on clients with less than £100,000 in assets, indicating a dramatic change from five years ago.
When asked what was the minimum amount of assets required to viably onboard a customer, only around one in six (16 per cent) said they would take on a client with less than £100,000, down from 50 per cent of advisors who said they would in 2014. Comparing results from previous years, around a third of advisors have left the sub-£100k client market in five years, the firm said.
The burden of increased regulation and insurance costs have been the main drivers, said Neil Jones, a tax and wealth specialist at Canada Life. “The economics of providing advice has fundamentally changed”, particularly, the costs.
“That clearly means some clients will struggle to get advice, as they are effectively priced out of the market,” which is costing both advisors and the wider population dearly, he said.
Jones said the reality of rising costs is making it necessary for advisors to shift their focus to wealthier clients, perhaps permanently, and explore different income models.
If the trend continues, it could “create a ‘lost generation’ of potential clients for whom it’s unnatural to just pick up the phone to their advisor or to create a comprehensive financial plan,” he said.
The trend flies in the face of research from EY, Deloitte and others pointing to crops of investors who no longer want to be part of an anonymised segment but treated more as unique individuals with specific life goals and preferences in mind. Also, many more investors want access to the same tools and advisory capacity as those higher up in the investment chain.
Canada Life said that advisors are responding to the income challenge by turning to new measures to attract younger clients. Roughly one in three surveyed said they are changing their marketing strategies to appeal to younger clients, such as increasing their social media use; and a third said they were planning to switch to more technology-based services rather than face-to-face meetings.
As expectations rise for more personalised advice and advisors continue coalescing around wealthier, generally older clients, it raises a policy level question of who is left to help younger investors develop their financial acuity that is beyond what technology can provide?