More and more bank customers in the UK would be willing to conduct the relationship entirely or partly through remote communication channels, a recent survey shows.

Clients Becoming More Comfortable with Online or Phone-Based Financial Advice

The economic crisis is changing the behaviour and habits of bank customers vis-à-vis their financial institution, a survey carried out by the UK-based Prudential insurance and financial services group reveals. The survey among 4,000 British adults who are signed up to the Springboard opinion platform shows that 25% of those polled would be willing to move away from traditional face-to-face meetings and receive advice online or over the phone. This figure breaks down into 11% who would be interested in receiving advice either on the phone or online, 10% who would want an online-only service and 4% who prefer the phone. In the same vein, two out of every five people would be happy to fill in an online questionnaire supplying personal details ahead of a meeting with a financial advisor. The proviso however is that this new approach would mean lower charges for advice, some 47% of respondents saying they would expect these charges to be at least halved.

Young people keenest on remote channels

As one would expect, support for the new approach is strongest among the younger generation, nearly four out of ten respondents aged 18 to 34 expressing interest in remote channels, compared with slightly under a quarter of the 35 to 54 age group. Among the over-55 year-olds, just 15% of those surveyed were in favour of conducting remote-channel relations with their bank. However this new distribution trend, which follows the shift towards paper-free, digital-based services, will not necessarily mean any loss of revenue for financial institutions. The Prudential report shows that nearly one in five respondents would be more inclined to pay for financial advice than they were before the global crisis struck.

Cutting costs, freeing up time

This shift in attitude is a result of people nowadays being more concerned about the state of their finances than before and trusting their own judgement less when making financial decisions, says Prudential. Financial sector providers also appear quite enthusiastic about these trends. “Giving advice over the phone or online is a logical progression for advisors, and reflects the need to meet changing customer demand,” explained Prudential's Distribution Change Director Russel Warwick, who expects financial sector firms to “start integrating non-face-to-face aspects of client servicing into their models over time.” Warwick believes that this is likely to lead to cost-reducing efficiencies and also free up advisors’ time, enabling them to focus on winning over new clients.