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‘Consumer Duty provided the catalyst for innovation’ – Air Comprehensive Conversations Roundtable

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‘Consumer Duty provided the catalyst for innovation’ – Air Comprehensive Conversations Roundtable

25th March 2024 – Following the Comprehensive Conversations Roundtable hosted last week by Air, the leading later life lending platform, and featuring insights from panellists across the later life industry, Air has announced the top takeaways from the discussion.

The roundtable featured panellists including:

  • Paul Glynn, CEO, Air
  • Keith Richards, CEO, Consumer Duty Alliance and Chair of the Financial Vulnerability Taskforce
    Will Hale, Group Director, Key Group
  • Charlotte Allen, Chief Compliance & Risk Officer, Key Group
  • David Forsdyke, Partner & Head of Later Life Finance, Knight Frank
  • Ben Waugh, Managing Director, more2life
  • Andrew Kerry, Financial Solutions Manager, StepChange

Top takeaways included:

Customer needs have forever changed

Panellists agreed that the needs of customers were changing dramatically in 2024, as the culmination of a series of long term factors that are leading increasing numbers of over-50s to carry debt into retirement.

Later life advice in isolation is no longer suitable for these clients, the panel agreed, and a customer-first perspective that considers all lending products is becoming crucial.

Whilst specialisms amongst advisers allowed customers to receive the most expert advice possible, it was determined that referral pathways need to be improved to ensure that customers are moved to the correct adviser for their situation.

New payment term products and similar are creating a ‘hybridisation’ of the industry, whereby mainstream and later life lending form one continuous journey for a customer.

Consumer Duty provides the catalyst for innovation

When discussing how Consumer Duty affects these changing customer needs, the panel came to a consensus that the tenets underpinning the Consumer Duty – that the consumer makes an informed decision – are the same requiring the change to more comprehensive conversations.

With many consumers who would benefit from independent advice still yet to engage with the IFA market, Consumer Duty is the first step in creating greater trust amongst consumers so they can access the holistic advice that is necessary to find the right product for ever-more complex needs. 

More work is needed

The panel agreed that a number of developments needed to occur to unlock the full potential of the market for advisers and ensure that more consumers can access the comprehensive advice they may need.

Chief amongst these was continuing innovation from lenders in creating hybrid products, backed with the work of advice firms in creating confidence in, and appetite for, these products in the market. Technology and education will prove essential here, with tech tools allowing advisers to spend more time talking to clients. Simultaneously, industry and CPD training through Air Academy will support advisers in knowing when a client is best referred, or when a non-product option is preferable.

Paul Glynn CEO at Air, commented:

“It’s refreshing to see so many industry experts committed to creating good outcomes for customers, with voices from advisers, lenders, industry bodies and funders all contributing to the conversation. Bringing some of these expert voices to the table to discuss the future of the advice process and the UK later life sector was a fantastic experience with some valuable results.

“We thank all of our panellists for contributing, and are already adapting our Comprehensive Conversations campaign to include new points raised in the discussion.”

To inspire the changes necessary to achieve good customer outcomes for this growing demographic of over-50s retiring whilst paying off a mortgage, Air has developed the Comprehensive Conversations Manifesto. The full manifesto can be viewed and signed here.

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