In a previous blog post called Is technology removing the need for face-to-face local advice?, Jo Gilbey posed the question around the digital revolution and what it can mean to financial firms and consumer engagement moving forward.
As we near the end of week two since launch of the new PFP application, I thought it would be worth sharing some data and insights as well as general feedback we have received from users of our iO Community. Clearly drawing conclusions from the sample size and time frame of 5 days is not something that would ‘stand up in court’, so please view these as preliminary findings.
Our perception and general hypothesis when building the application was under-pinned by a true belief that there was a significant amount of financial activity that consumers were engaging in that our advice firms were simply not aware of and hence unable to seize the service opportunities presented. Investing time and resources in an integration to bring short-term money management directly into view and creating an engaging experience for consumers that encourages sharing has resulted in some great insights. From our registrations and activity in the first week we have seen that consumers are adding a greater number of savings accounts when compared to current accounts, this can be explained by some of the commentary in the public domain around how to get the best return on liquid assets coupled with increased use of internet banking which makes movement of cash between accounts painless. Putting money in a place with marginally higher interest is appealing especially when movement does not come with a penalty. When you combine this insight with the average numbers around household spend vs income, it can be seen that net disposable income is positive, yet the level of debt is still prevalent. Are consumers hoarding money that could be better placed servicing debt and how aware are they of the benefits in paying off debt or investing in slightly longer term assets? One adviser that I have engaged with over the course of the week has found a client he knew very well actually had 2 self-service trading accounts, these have now been added in Intelligent-Office as plans and a review meeting has been scheduled – the result may be a rebalance of investments since there is a strong indication from actual behaviour that the client’s attitude to risk has changed. This is one example that cements a belief in the system and goes some way in helping to prove the hypothesis.
Another great indicator for the increased level of engagement is the amount of communication being generated through the system. We are seeing a sharp uptake in secure messaging, document sharing as well as insights being generated (insights are system notifications sent when an event happens that the user has subscribed to). Insights and the delivery of these is driving registered users back to the application and we can see a usage pattern developing.
What we are confident about is that consumers do want this channel for communication with their adviser and some early adopters of the technology are already gaining benefits from PFP. For example, Laurence Smith from Laurence Anthony (an IFA practice in Cheshire) recently stated “The Personal Finance Portal is a fabulous visual tool. Since adding it to our service proposition, it’s proven to be a success with clients and this has been reflected in the positive feedback we are receiving. Clients can really see a value in using the Personal Finance Portal. It also cements in their mind the association with their finances and our company.” Click here to read their PFP story
I am very excited by the development being made in the short/medium and long term and truly believe that we have a very stable platform on which we can develop and support distribution as the world around us starts to evolve.