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Brits embrace remote advice

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UK consumers are warming to the idea of alternatives to face-to-face financial advice, with 25% claiming they would be willing to receive advice online or over the phone if it saved them money.

According to research carried out by Prudential, around 11% of people would be interested in receiving advice either on the phone or online, while 10% would want an online-only service and 4% phone-only.

Four in 10 would be happy to fill in a fact find online before sitting down with an adviser if that reduced the fee payable.

The research revealed that 47% of people would expect advice by phone or online to cost at least half as much as a face-to-face service, while 18% are more willing to pay for financial advice now than they were before the global financial crisis.

Prudential conducted the nationwide research to gauge people’s attitudes to potential new business models for financial advice, ahead of the introduction of the Financial Services Authority’s Retail Distribution Review (RDR), which comes into force on 1 January 2013.

Younger people are more keen on the idea of remote meetings than their older counterparts, with 39% of 18 to 34-year-olds saying they would be happy to receive financial advice on the phone or online or through a combination of phone and online, compared to 23% of 35 to 54-year-olds.The support reduces to 15% among those aged over 55.

Russell Warwick, Prudential’s distribution change director, said:

“Giving advice over the phone or online is a logical progression for advisers, and reflects the need to meet changing customer demand. We don’t believe that an ‘all or nothing’ approach is set to emerge but we do expect firms to start integrating non face-to-face aspects of client servicing into their models over time, as clients become more comfortable about receiving advice remotely.

“Providing these services can be run in a way that is cheaper than the face-to-face approach, it should free up advisers’ time, making their businesses more efficient and enabling them to focus on securing new clients. Conducting annual reviews by phone, for example, would cut travel time which, when added up for all clients, could amount to hundreds of hours over the course of a year.”

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