‘Demand’ For Generic Financial Advice

There is a great need for a generic financial advisory service to be rolled out across Britain.

So claims Citizens Advice, following analysis of a pilot project it carried out with a number of independent financial advisers (IFAs) and the Personal Finance Society. Funded by Barclays and Aegon, the Moneyplan scheme saw some 30 IFAs offer face-to-face monetary advice at Citizens Advice branches throughout the country for free.

Following on from such guidance, it is possible that consumers will be able to secure access to cheap loans and other competitively-priced financial products, so helping them to get back on to their fiscal feet.

Overall, pensions, mortgages and investments were among the main areas consumers were looking for advice on. Insurance and understanding documents from money providers, which may include loan lenders, were also sources of requests for help with money.

With owner-occupiers, aged 50 years or above and who are on a relatively low income, making up the majority of clients using the Moneyplan service, the company advised that “the trigger” for causing people to seek out help with their finances often follows on from retirement, illness, bereavement or becoming redundant.

For those people concerned about handling their finances should they be affected by any of the above life-changing circumstances, a low-rate personal loan could be a means of financial assistance.

Findings from the initiative also revealed that more than half (55 per cent) of those seeking guidance were on a low income, earning less than 1,000 pounds per month. Meanwhile, 71 per cent of such people were shown to be over the age of 50, with 46 per cent reported to be living alone or in a couple who do not have any dependent children. In addition, just less than half (48 per cent) have a mortgage, with 31 per cent of those who go to Citizens Advice for help own their home outright.

Currently, the provision of generic fiscal advisory service is the subject of an independent review, headed by Otto Thoresen. Citizens Advice went on to report that there is “significant demand” for such assistance. However, the guidance institution suggested that many people often do not think about getting help from an IFA or believe that they may be unable to afford such advice.

Jackie Nowell, head of partnership development for Citizens Advice, said: “The results so far of partnering Citizens Advice Bureaux with IFAs in the Moneyplan project indicate both that there is a need for a national generic Find Cash Advance and that this is an effective model for delivering it. The range of issues presented to the IFAs is broad, but it appears that there is particular demand from those who may own their own homes, but have low incomes. This evidence emphasises that there is a gap in provision which needs to be addressed.”

From receiving comprehensive financial guidance, it is possible that people might be able to seek out competitively-priced personal loans, savings accounts, credit cards and other financial products with greater ease. Following on from advice on loans and other areas, people may find that they are able to get to grips with money more effectively. However it may be advisable to stick to the professionals when seeking help. A recent study by Birmingham Midshires indicated that 16 per cent of consumers have been given poor monetary advice from either a friend or family member, which has seen eight out of ten people suffer financially.