Celebrating 20 Years of Online Financial Advice
Our Anniversary Thoughts
Like all businesses we have had highs and lows. Struggling when we started on 1st September 2000 with no clients and with the concept of fee only, commission free financial advice being alien to consumers already used to the financial adviser or the bank suggesting that the pension, investment or insurance company will pay them and you pay nothing.
With dial-up internet, freeserve, mobile telephone ‘bricks’ and an age to download a web page, things have clearly moved on. We started in a converted garage in 2000. Who would have thought, 20 years on we have helped thousands of people, won 50+ awards, have 10,000 pages online and have offices in London, the Midlands and Cornwall?
What have we learned?
Financial advice has become a profession and not a sales job.
Advisers are so much more qualified with many now being Chartered. We were early trailblazers there, being named in the first ever published list of Chartered practitioners by the Chartered Insurance Institute way back in 1995.
Advisers are mainly more transparent with their fees in addition to product providers offering clean, transparent and penalty free products.
Consumers are better informed about finance, markets, products and options. The information world has meant we can all access answers to most things that we need in minutes.
The regulator, whilst doing many excellent things is still reactive and does not have enough ‘coal face’ experience to understand how the financial advisory market works. We would not have had the recent Defined Benefit Pension Transfer Mis-selling Scandal if the FCA had done its job properly. How can a small IFA in South Wales mis-sell thousands of pension transfers and go ‘under the radar’? The FCA needs to be pro-active.
Markets are even more volatile and will continue to be as financial instruments become more complex and freely available.
What of the next 20 years? What are we planning for?
We always look at sci-fi and futuristic movies to second guess the future. If an author or film director can imagine it, it is or will be possible. The classic example is the film Demolition Man with no cash and only ‘credits’, video calls, self drive cars and more. Demolition Man was made in 1993 – 27 years ago before all of this was possible.
Technology and data are king.
Data protection is therefore king by definition. This is why we only build our own systems and coding with our own security, we do not buy in systems that can easily become a target of fraudsters due to mass use.
Robotic and artificial intelligence finance is the future right now. We are building our own robo adviser.
Virtual reality and 3d holographic advice is coming. We are thinking about how to develop this.
Work practices in service industries will change with even greater reliance on technology and remote working.
Imagine a world where everything you do, see, touch is automated and linked in. It will be.
We thank you, our clients, for trusting us to look after you and your finances. We have loved it. There have been good and bad times, happy and sad and a lot of stress but know that we have always worked in your best interests and will continue to do so.
This has not been about our need to earn money, clearly we all need to have money. We believe if you do a good job, clients will happily pay your fees and more importantly remain as clients and indeed recommend us to family, friends and colleagues.
20 years done and we have so much more to achieve with the technology revolution that is coming. Here’s to what we can all do in the next 20 years!
Thank you all.
Ashley and Joanne Roberts-Clark
Directors and founders of Roberts Clark and FinancialAdvice.net