Mind the advice gap: when advice doesn’t add up

Only around half of people said they would consider taking financial advice (51%). 29% of people said they wouldn’t take advice because it was too expensive. This rose to a third among women (33%) and 37% of those aged 25-54. Another 28% said they don’t have enough money to make it worthwhile. This included 35% of women and 34% of those aged 55 and over.

Figures from a survey of 2,000 people by Opinium for HL in April 2022.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown: “When financial advice doesn’t add up, savers and investors need a sensible alternative. In theory, half of us think we might consider taking advice, but in reality the FCA says that the number of people who actually end up getting help is far lower – at around 6% of adults.

Part of the solution is to ensure that those who would benefit from advice overcome the commonly held misunderstandings holding them back. This includes the 21% who don’t trust advisers and the 12% who simply believe that advice isn’t for people like them. Then there’s the one in 20 who are put off because they don’t want to sign up for ongoing advice and services they don’t want or can’t afford – without realising that some businesses offer one-off sessions covering whatever is most important to you.

The alternative

However, there are also millions of people who would love to get a steer on how to manage their money better, but don’t have enough cash to make paying for advice worthwhile. When you’re starting out with savings and investments, you may not have a huge amount of money to put aside, but you want some help to get onto the right path. Likewise, cost can be a barrier for those who are worried that they need every penny of their savings and investments to protect themselves, and don’t want to eat into it with professional fees.

Financial companies are keen to step into the breach, and there are all kinds of solutions in the pipeline, using the best of technology alongside the intervention of experts.

However, right now there are real limits on what they can do under current rules, because if the guidance is too helpful and too tailored to people’s needs, it could be considered to be overstepping the boundary into advice, because it becomes an implied recommendation. So, for example, if someone has invested in a high-cost index tracking fund, you can’t highlight specific cheaper alternatives, even if they are like-for-like, which is a barrier to investors taking action in their best interests.

It’s why HL is campaigning for a change in the rules around guidance, to allow regulated companies to give people simple, more personalised, guidance and nudges to help them improve their financial position.”