Generic Financial Advice: evaluating commercial approaches
21st December 2006
This report analyses whether generic financial advice services could be provided on a commercial basis and, if so, what form they would take and which sections of society they would serve. The report is based on previous research, interviews with practitioners in the industry, the regulator and other interested organisations, and the author’s experience in his own commercial career.
The author argues that:
- There is a strong need for generic financial advice, however consumers often need prompting before they will seek it
- Consumers are unlikely to pay for advice and providers do not view the provision of advice as a specific activity or as a commercial activity, rather it is seen as an element of corporate social responsibility
- The amount of generic advice currently provided by commercial providers is necessarily limited and, for banks, building societies and insurance companies, advice provided tends to be impartial
Although there is some evidence that financial services organisations could adapt their delivery models to extend existing generic advice services, on a limited basis, to a wider group of people, this does not seem to be a viable prospect at present. While those on median incomes and high earners will continue to have some generic financial advice available to them, people on very low incomes and low to moderate incomes will remain poorly served.
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