While it might seem self-evident that demand for financial advice would spike during a global pandemic and its associated economic upheaval, it's helpful to justify the assumption with some hard figures.
Per research from Allan Gray, there was an 18% increase in "online search interest in information about financial advice" in 2020 and over 140,000 mentions of superannuation on Twitter. The kind of web content that saw the most engagement focused on misconduct in the super sector, future impacts of super early withdrawal and financial scams - the latter of which was rife throughout the past 12 months, if the 323% increase in scam reports to the ACCC is anything to go by.
The research also found that, based on Google Trends data, there were eight topics with increases in search interest of 5,000% (or more) compared to 2019. These were the ATO, ethics, AustralianSuper, conflicts of interest, strategy, brokers, retirement and certified public accountant.
All of this suggests that Australians were, indeed, more motivated to – at the very least – make more inquiries about their financial situation during COVID-19 than in preceding years.
The question, of course, is whether this trend will continue. Referring to 2021 as "the year of the adviser," Vanessa writes that the steady departure of people from the industry has led to a bigger potential market share for all remaining participants. Combining this insight with the research above, it does appear that if there were ever a time for advisers to expand their client-bases, it's right now.
With a significant number of Australians now taking an interest in advice, the industry should be poised to take advantage of this situation – because if it doesn't, someone else will.
Who's the "someone else" here? TikTok influencers, for one. Research by cryptocurrency exchange Paxful found that out of 1,000 investment-related videos on the social media platform – collectively representing 28.4 million views – 14% didn't offer any kind of disclaimer or explanation of risks. Over half of the accounts responsible for these videos had made at least one "misleading" post and only 10% provided information regarding their qualifications.
If people want financial advice, they’re going to find a way to get it, even if it comes from someone unqualified and completely unaware of – let alone making recommendations based on – their best interests.
This is why 2021 is going to be a critical year for advisers: this is the time to be refining communications strategies, expanding referral networks and ensuring that when someone starts Googling about their savings plan, they don’t end up getting told to blow it all on Dogecoin.
We understand that making these changes won’t be easy, though, which is why we’re dedicating part of our editorial strategy this year to the idea of “accessible advice” – looking at the issue through multiple lenses, including technology, regulatory reform and practice management.
We’re excited to be working with the advice community in what could be one of its biggest years yet.
The opinions expressed in this content are those of the author shown, and do not necessarily represent those of No More Practice Education Pty Ltd or its related entities. All content is intended for a professional financial adviser audience only and does not constitute financial advice. To view our full terms and conditions, click here
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