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Dreams for 2017: Industry heavyweights share their hopes for the future

13 January 2017

As we look ahead to a new year, we ask some leading industry figures to reveal their hopes, ambitions and resolutions for 2017.

Dreams for 2017: Industry heavyweights share their hopes for the future

Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice

One of Gillian Guy’s biggest hopes for 2017 is that the government makes the most of its opportunity to create a single, holistic public body responsible for money, debt and pension guidance. “The needs of individuals must take front and centre stage as plans for this new body are developed; money, debt and pensions services should be interlinked to address people’s problems as a whole,” says the chief executive of Citizens Advice. “Getting this right is also key for the adviser community as guidance services can be an effective source of referrals, for instance via our MoneyPlan project which provides a seamless introduction to independent financial advice.” Citizens Advice helps people with a range of issues from housing and employment to benefits and energy bills – most of which have financial implications. “I’m looking forward to hearing more stories from people about the difference Citizens Advice has made to their lives,” adds Gillian.

Jacqueline Lockie, Chartered Institute For Securities & Investment

Last year was one of surprises: the outcomes of the EU referendum and US election were far from anticipated. Jacqueline Lockie, deputy head of financial planning at the CISI, hopes we take the time to understand one another this year. “Lately, we’ve seen lots of upheaval in various guises. Whether you agree or not I would hope that in amongst all this, we take the time to truly understand the ideas put forward and to endeavour to build a detailed picture of why people are acting in various ways,” she says. “My ambition is that the importance of financial planning continues to grow in the minds of the consumer and that they continue to ask plenty of questions to satisfy themselves that they are happy with the advice they are being given. “On a personal note, I hope to get my shoulder repaired so I can get back to doing half ironman triathlons and 10km swims.”

Karen Barrett, Unbiased

Karen Barrett’s New Year’s resolution is to promote seeking financial advice as the norm. “We’ve made great strides lately in improving the advice journey, so that more people than ever are encouraged to seek the advice they need,” says the chief executive of Unbiased.co.uk, the site that connects consumers to advice. “At the same time, we recognise how much bigger the potential market is. Our 2016 report, The Advice Nation, revealed that only one in six people seek financial advice in their lifetime, yet pension freedom has made advice at least desirable for a majority of retirees. “More generally, I hope that 2017 will deliver a better outlook for first-time buyers, whether in the form of new incentives or a major house building drive. As a nation we neglect the lower end of the market at our peril. “As for my personal resolution, it’s to retain my crown as the office Bake Off champion.”

Keith Richards, Personal Finance Society

As the Financial Conduct Authority and the Treasury work through the 28 recommendations of the Financial Advice Market Review, 2017 promises to be a watershed year for the advice market, according to PFS chief executive Keith Richards – provided the profession collaborates effectively. “We have an opportunity to influence positive change if we continue to be united as a profession,” he says. “The government is intent on increasing access to advice, which is already raising the profile of its value and importance. “In 2017, I will continue to consult with members, consumer groups and other stakeholders to ensure we play our part in this once-in-a-generation opportunity to influence reform and improve consumer outcomes. “I’m proud of the profession and will continue to engage policymakers and raise the profile of financial advice and planning more broadly. “My personal New Year’s resolutions are to run more, ride [my motorbike] more and maintain a good life/work balance.”

Matt Connell, Zurich

Dr Matt Connell’s greatest wish for 2017 is that the conditions required for more investment in the advice sector are achieved, laying the foundations for closing the advice gap. “The introduction of pension freedoms demonstrated the need for professional financial advice to politicians, and the FCA’s reviews of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Professional Indemnity Insurance Market could create a fair system of liability for advisers – a system where advisers can achieve fair value for their business without the threat of claims hanging over them indefinitely,” says Matt, head of regulatory developments at Zurich UK Life. “This can only happen if advisers contribute to the debate, giving the FCA an insight into how these markets affect real businesses, and I look forward to working with advisers and APFA to make this happen. “2017 is also the year I’m going to learn a foreign language, do more exercise and watch less TV – just like every year!”

Nick Britton, Association of Investment Companies

The AIC has trained 5,000 advisers since 2011, including 1,400 last year, but the quest for head of training Nick Britton continues. “It’s been a slow burn, but signs are our message about the benefits of investment companies is getting across,” he says. “More than 1,600 advisory and wealth management firms now buy investment companies via platforms for clients – a threefold increase from pre-RDR days. “There’s still more to do. Next year we’re expanding our online training capabilities to try and reach those advisers who wouldn’t necessarily show up to a seminar. “I also want to do more bespoke training, meeting firms around the country who are on a path to introducing investment companies to clients. “On a personal level, I’d like to spend less free time reading the news. Thinking about the big picture is very well in moderation, but I should really be putting up that bathroom shelf!”