Aviva research shows personal relationships are key to IFA success

Article date: 21 July 2010

- Existing clients are the best source of new business say advisers.
- Intermediaries value customer service over competitive products from providers.
- Advisers making massive business change in preparation for RDR.

Financial advisers believe existing clients are the best source of new business, according to Aviva’s new quarterly intermediary ‘Hot Issues Tracker’.

This second tranche of research highlights the importance intermediaries place on strong personal relationships with existing clients and contacts, in generating new business. Most advisers (85%) expect referrals from existing clients to be the best source of new business, and nearly half (47%) expect to increase revenues from existing clients. Other sources of new business also rely on personal relationships, including networking (9%) and professional referrals (8%).

When it comes to providing a personal touch, advisers expect as much from their providers as they deliver to their clients. In fact, the survey revealed that intermediaries value good customer service (77%) over competitive products (68%).  Also high on their priority list are fast query / information turnaround (58%), face-to-face contact (41%) and high performing products (43%).

When asked about planned changes to their business, most advisers (79%) say they had no plans to diversify or expand their business within the next few months. However, additional research1 suggests this may be because most advisers are busy making massive changes to their business models in preparation for RDR, with:

- Almost two-thirds (60%) working on further qualifications
- Over half (55%) changing their remuneration models
- Over a quarter (26%) moving to using a wrap or platform
- And over a quarter (27%) changing their client profile.

Just 25% of advisers are doing nothing to prepare for RDR – a close match for the 25% who believe they will no longer be trading come January 2013.

Simon Badley, director of intermediary at Aviva, said: “Putting the customer first has long been seen as the key to a profitable business and our research shows that this is still the case. Financial advisers expect the majority of their new business to come through existing customers in the coming months, either directly or through referrals.

“At Aviva, we recognise that advisers rely on us to provide them with the support and tools they need to build strong relationships with their clients. Our role as a provider is particularly important in the current political and economic climate, where advisers are navigating major industry change, while consumers may be reviewing their financial affairs and actively seeking advice.

“Aviva is committed to providing a range of competitive services and products. And over recent months we've made improvements in many of the areas advisers tell us are important - such as speedier processing of new business, faster resolution of queries, and better e-commerce. We’re piloting a tool to help advisers better understand and segment their client base, and we’re looking at providing services which advisers can direct their clients to where appropriate, helping to free up their time.

“The Hot Issues Tracker is part of our ongoing dialogue with advisers. It helps us better understand the challenges facing the UK's IFAs so we can provide them with support where they need it most.”     

Kay Ingram, head of individual savings & investment at LEBC Group added: "Forging long term relationships with its clients has been at the heart of LEBC Group's success. Our firm believes that the in depth knowledge which its advisers gain of clients, their families and businesses is of real value to clients. It means we are around to take responsibility for the advice given in the past and to ensure it remains relevant to clients needs.

“Aviva is one of the companies we like to work with as customer service is crucial to our ability to provide a good service to our clients and they share our mantra that today's new customer is tomorrow's existing client.”

Aviva Hot Issues Tracker
Unless otherwise stated, all research is from the Aviva Hot Issues Tracker. This quarterly series of surveys is aimed at revealing the issues and concerns of the UK’s financial advisers. This exclusive research asks IFAs to respond to questions about their business and answer questions on areas of particular topical interest. The first tranche of research was launched at a roundtable held on 23 June 2010.

Main body of research based on survey of 228 advisers between 4 - 10 June by YouGov.
1   Additional research based on survey of 102 advisers between May and June by Aviva.

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Aviva Press Office
David Gwyer 01904 452659 or 07800 693187
Jess Geoghegan 01904 684128 or 07800 695673

The Wriglesworth Consultancy
Lee Blackwell / Katie de Pelet    020 7427 1400 l.blackwell@wriglesworth.com

Notes to editors
Aviva is the world’s fifth largest* insurance group, serving 53 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

Aviva's main business activities are long-term savings, fund management and general insurance, with worldwide total sales of £45.1 billion and funds under management of £379 billion at 31 December 2009 

We are the largest insurance services provider in the UK and one of the leading providers of life and pensions products in Europe  

Aviva’s life and pensions business in the UK has a total market share of 9.8%** and a leading position in its key markets of savings, protection and annuities

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*based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2008

**Source: ABI data released May 2010

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