Financial services has probably never experienced such revolutionary change as the one it is undergoing at present.
Never before have 20 million people been given a product that they effectively all engage with.
What do I speak of? Auto-enrolment, of course, and the lease of life it has given our profession. Take-up rates are huge and the enthusiasm shown, in particular by the young, has been great to witness.
Young people understand demographics. This means that they soon conclude that some form of self-sufficiency will be required and that this is not the political conspiracy which certain wise old heads in our field predicted.
This is one government move that is making a meaningful difference to them: the monies are being paid into an account with their name on it! For advisers, auto-enrolment is opening doors like they have never been opened before.
Firstly, employers have no choice but to offer a scheme at their relevant staging date. All the research suggests that many company bosses need help here and that’s where we come in.
Secondly, individuals may have more pension questions than ever before so the demand for quality retirement planning advice will increase.
Lastly, our sister professions – accountants and lawyers – will need to find many of us to partner with in a way they have never done before, the simple reason being that they cannot give financial advice.
Herein for me lies the opportunity for protection: if this is people’s first ever financial services product then we need to signpost them to the second. And if they have bought into the self-sufficiency argument about retirement then there is a natural and obvious link to protection.
While you can no longer rely solely on the state, some people might think they can depend on their employer in the event of illness or death. It is our duty and obligation as advisers to help clients ascertain this. What I’m sure you’ll find is that very few employers cover their workers against long-term illness.
Companies, too, might show greater desire to talk about succession planning, which as we all know has some great solutions that we can advise on – one being business protection.
The signposts to protection will sometimes be obvious and sometimes you will need to prompt the connection, but without doubt auto-enrolment gives rise to a huge opportunity for advisers to share in its fruits.
Roy McLoughlin is partner at London-based Master Adviser