Will a growing need and demand for advice be filled by IFAs or will it come too late?

Advisers are being bombarded with statistics and calculations predicting further declines in their numbers from consultancies and academics, but also, sometimes from the other direction with suggestions that numbers might grow from Zurich, that more people will seek advice from Axa and that we need more advisers from Standard Life.

Most of these predictions are based on taking a long hard look at the numbers but sometimes coming up with well researched, sincerely believed and very different conclusions. Advisers themselves may feel a little steadier. They may look at their own business and see that things are actually going okay with a little help from the stock market, the housing market (in some parts) and now even the economy though it ain’t boom time just yet. Even adviser charging has not proved too much of a challenge (for those firms that have survived of course) and they may hopefully manage to deal with the probable end of trail too in 2016.

For the country and for financial services, the issue is hugely important and what worries me is that all these opinions could be correct after a fashion. So we may see a further decrease in IFA numbers – which unfortunately makes the rest of you easier to ignore – and then we may see big changes which increase demand. These include auto-enrolment, demographics, baby boomer retirement, the decline of bank advisers and the retreat of the state from welfare provision.

But if these forces come to bear too late, will it be advisers who fill the advice vacuum?

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