Covid-19 provided a “clear turning point” in the way advisers and clients connect with each other, a director at Quilter Financial Advisers has said.
Lee Barnard said 2021 saw the continued development and embedding of hybrid advice into the way in which advisers connect with clients.
He said: “The pandemic has provided a clear turning point for not only flexibility in the workplace, but in how everyday people connect with each other.
“Older generations in particular have learnt new online skills, not because they want to engage with their pensions, but because they wanted to see their grandchildren.”
Barnard explained that subsequently, there has been a shift towards a hybrid approach to financial advice more clearly in 2021.
“Gone are the days where advisers have to spend half of their working day on the road,” he said.
“While some may still prefer to travel for in-person meetings, as may their clients, the option is now available to cut out unnecessary travel time in favour of virtual meetings.”
However, he argued that this shift has been a long time coming.
The advances in technology had not previously been made full use of in the industry, and throughout 2021, there has been continued embedding of the use of technology and e-commerce to support and improve customer experience, he explained.
“This will likely continue into 2022,” he added.
Meanwhile, the importance of sustainability has been a key takeaway from 2021 as well, with more focus than ever before placed on its importance.
Eimear Toomey, head of responsible investment at Quilter Investors, said investing and personal finance have often been overlooked in terms of living more sustainably.
“But in 2021, we saw a shift that left the ways in which people’s savings and pensions are invested under scrutiny,” he said. “Cop26 was a key moment in 2021.
“While some were disappointed in the outcomes of the summit – feeling global leaders watered down their commitments – it undeniably increased awareness, sparked conversations, and gave large companies the push needed to begin making change.”
Toomey said the Financial Conduct Authority also recognised the importance of sustainable investment and the need for investors to know exactly what it is they are investing in, as well as whether the product’s green credentials marry up with what they were expecting.
“In an attempt to ensure that accurate and detailed data and information is made available, the FCA has proposed a new sustainable investment labelling regime that aims to allow investors to quickly and easily identify which investment products match their ESG preferences,” he said.
“This is much needed and will make responsible investing much more accessible.”
Looking ahead, Paul Craig, portfolio manager at Quilter Investors, said as long as there is progress out of the other side of the pandemic, 2022 will be the year to see the true impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.