There has been a dramatic fall in the number of people who look for an IFA online during the last 15 years, according to a research study.
Data gathered by The Marketing Eye shows IFA related terms on search engine Google are 83 per cent down from their peak in February 2004.
Although the rate of decline has slowed, search volumes are still 35 per cent down on where they were around the time of the financial crisis in 2008.
The marketing agency says the findings are particularly surprising given the context of the current advice market.
It suggests the Retail Distribution Review, pension freedoms and growth of high net worth individuals would all be expected to increase the demand for advice.
The Marketing Eye chief executive Neil Edwards says: “We can learn a lot about people’s changing habits by analysing their search behaviours. The indication of a sea-change in how people are choosing to manage their money is marked.
At Money Marketing’s conference in Harrogate in September, Yardstick Agency founder and director Phil Bray warned delegates that what someone sees online can be “absolutely vital”.
He said what potential clients see online will increase or decrease the chances of them getting in touch.
But if the data from Marketing Eye is anything to go by advisers have a bigger challenge to ensure people feel the need for an adviser in the first place.
Surveys can also show unexpected results about the profile of who looks for financial advice and how they get it.
Sanlam UK research shows older generations are the least likely to speak to a financial adviser about managing their finances.
This contradicts results from Aegon’s Adviser Attitudes Report two years ago, which showed advisers found it difficult to attract younger generations.
Meanwhile, a recent study by fintech firm Nucoro reveals the average wealth manager turns away 72 clients every year because they fall below minimum investment thresholds.
Speculating about the reasons people are avoiding searching online for an adviser, Edwards says: “Access to online investment performance data, opinions and managed portfolios has increased significantly over the last 10 years and this could be leading more people to think that they can save on adviser fees and manage their own investments. However, there’s little evidence that online robo-advisers are cleaning up just yet, so it looks like there is more to it than that.”
He warns advisers cannot afford to be complacent.
“Financial advisers have an important role to play and thanks to the Baby Boomer generation who, in general terms, are relatively wealthy and asset-rich, many advisers today are busy and able to pick and choose who they take on as clients.
“However, advisers should be looking to the future and recognising that they must compete with offerings that are available online if they are to continue to thrive in the future.”