"Demand for retirement advice has been increasing since the introduction of the pension freedoms, and the pandemic has further demonstrated the value of advice in this area."
The report explores the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on demand for retirement advice and the ability of advisers to attract new clients. Last year’s report found that demand had increased more than usual in the first year of the pandemic, although new client acquisition had become more difficult due to the restrictions on social mixing, including face-to-face meetings.
The latest data shows demand for retirement advice has continued to increase during the second year of the pandemic. Nearly half (47%) of advisers said demand has increased, an increase from 40% the previous year.
Advisers also said that changing attitudes to work are driving demand as clients reassess priorities. 51% of advisers said there has been an increase in clients retiring early. This is reflected in official figures over the last two years showing a rise in number of older workers leaving employment, a reversal of pre-pandemic trends.
The research shows the pandemic has also promoted individuals to focus on their health as well as wealth. 61% of advisers said clients are now more focused on their health and longevity than prior to the pandemic and 60% said more clients are updating their wills and trusts.
Difficulties around new client acquisition was the biggest business impact that advisers reported during the first year of the pandemic. Face-to-face meetings are seen as important for first-time clients, and these were restricted within the social mixing rules. However, this year’s research shows the relaxing of social distancing rules and increased confidence in doing business digitally has made it easier for advisers.
The latest data shows less than a third (32%) of advisers said that it was more difficult to acquire new clients during the pandemic, compared to over half (57%) from the first year of the pandemic.
Ronnie Taylor, chief distribution officer at Aegon, commented: “Demand for retirement advice has been increasing since the introduction of the pension freedoms, and the pandemic has further demonstrated the value of advice in this area. Over the last two years, individuals have increasingly reassessed priorities and long-term plans and have been prompted to focus more on health and longevity.
“The research points towards an increase in early retirement during the pandemic. Advisers are well placed to support clients through this and manage a sustainable income throughout retirement. We’ve become used to a volatile stock market in recent years and the research shows there is growing sophistication in the use of retirement planning tools to support safe withdrawal strategies. The uncertainty around the economic outlook with rising interest rates and high inflation means the robustness of financial plans is expected to be tested further.
“The transition to remote meetings and the huge acceleration of digital processes has opened up new opportunities for advisers as an alternative means of communication with clients. However, face-to-face meetings remain an important part of developing new relationship so it’s understandable the relaxing of social mixing restrictions has made client acquisition easier.”
Heather Hopkins, managing director of Next Wealth, added: “The Covid pandemic has fueled demand for retirement planning advice as people re-evaluate priorities and look at options to retire early. Half of financial advisers told us that they have seen an increase in the number of clients looking to retire early through the pandemic. The complexity of this decision underscores the value of professional financial advice. We look forward to continuing to chart the course of retirement advice in the UK.”