With a sense of wonder, we find ourselves in the New Year. Where on earth did 2021 go?!

    In order to get ahead, we’ve been taking a bit of time to look at what themes we think are going to be particularly prevalent in 2022 in financial services: 

    ESG 

    The hot topic of 2021, we think the conversation around ESG will evolve next year and be less about who has the 'greenest credentials', and more about how ESG investing can be made a practical part of the advice process.  

    Advisers have been working hard to educate themselves on these matters, and key is how this can be consistently applied to the conversations they have with clients, and robustly managed through their internal structure. We see more progress happening on this, and undoubtedly some new tools emerging to better support the conversation.  

    Consumer Duty  

    While not anticipated to be fully implemented until April 2023, the Consumer Duty Paper being finalised by the FCA is likely to have an impact on many aspects of financial services this year. 

    Advisers will be looking at the impact on their business and how they are demonstrating their value to clients, in a clear and transparent way. We don’t think it’s as simple as suddenly saying percentage fees are no longer appropriate; instead, it’s an enhancement of an ongoing topic around ensuring clients understand exactly how much they’re paying, and exactly what they’re getting for it.  

    Taking it to the provider side will be interesting; there has been an element of advisers taking the brunt of regulation for quite some time and they are clearly only one part of the advice chain. It’s absolutely right that this value consideration is applied equally to all parties, and we foresee businesses (hopefully!) starting to prepare and position themselves ahead of the rule implementation.  

    Tech  

    Ahh if anything was hotter than ESG in 2021, it was the progress of technology in financial services. For those in the know, software can’t be built overnight, and so in terms of new stuff actually being released, 2021 was fairly quiet.  

    However, what it has seen is a plethora of individuals and businesses working on the build of new technology, with a large number of them pencilled in to have their initial release next year, and so it’s likely to be a very busy year on that front. 

    As advisers, the question right now is where is your biggest pain point, and what can technology do to help alleviate that? If that tech doesn’t already exist, it’s likely that it will, in some form, in the coming year. If you can, get involved with the user groups and beta testing - help shape the tech to support your firm and other advice firms, and know that you’re playing your part in the great evolution of financial services. 

    One thing is for certain, and that is that we have all weathered an incredibly tough two years, and so all our fingers will be crossed for a much merrier 2022 all round.  

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