IFA Magazine interviews Wealth Wizards' CEO Andrew Firth.
First Published in IFA Magazine on 18th October 2021
RT: Can you describe who Wealth Wizards are, as well as your ethos and proposition?
AF: We are a digital financial advice business - very much a technology business. Our founding purpose is to make financial advice affordable and accessible to everybody by using technology. We talk the benefits and potential of digital advice, which involves how we use the internet, our mobile phones, and all the other digital devices to make financial advice more accessible and cheaper to deliver. There’s also automation, which involves how we can make the decisions involved in financial advice more efficient using algorithms and other tech processes to support the decision making.
There are two sides to what we do.
One element is self-service guidance and simple advice where clients can help themselves to basic advice and guidance. The other element relates to what we call a hybrid model which is offered by our Turo platform. Here we're supporting financial advisers and/or other people who work in a financial advice practice to communicate with the client, but in an efficient and effective way using digital technologies such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
We’re also helping to automate some of the more time-consuming advice elements, such as fact finds, suitability reports and reviewing and validation of data, making the processes slicker and less time intensive. This helps free up advisers and back-office staff to work on client relationships and revenue generating tasks.
We have a white-label side to our business where we work with asset managers and major banks. We also have our own brand - MyEva - which is an employer proposition which we sell to employers. In total we have about 50 employers who use MyEva and 50,000 employees who can access MyEva, which is a digital adviser in the workplace.
RT: We see that IFA firms typically serve clients over a set net wealth, because of the high costs of delivering financial advice. Can technology help advisers both attract and make profitable lower value clients?
AF: Yes, I think it absolutely can, and I think it can still establish very valuable clients. But I think that, typically, IFAs have had to start serving wealthier and wealthier clients to make their models work. That’s because there is so much effort involved in serving an individual client these days - both to be compliant and to do the right job for the client.
What we are bringing to market is two sides to how advisers can serve slightly lower value clients.
One is by offering self-service guidance and simple advice, which would allow advisers to do things like simple ISAs, pension top-ups, and annual reviews using a self-service digital medium. The other is by offering productivity tools so that advisers can complete a case much more quickly – and that does not mean less time with the client.
If a typical client engagement means two or three hours of face time, we're not really saying that we're going to save a huge amount of that time - although there is some we can save. Our focus is more on saving time back in the office where all the analysis, research, calculating and bringing together of information is going on. That's really where we are adding huge value using the hybrid model.
We’ve proven that Turo can compress the advice process down by around two thirds, while providing accurate, fully compliant advice. Recently one of our client partners timed their average at-retirement process at approx. 35 hours per case - from receiving the initial lead through to business submission.
Fact finds were taking on average 280 minutes and case writing was consuming around 580 minutes, so there was a clear need to reduce the time spent on these key areas of the advice process. Through automation we were able to significantly reduce the time taken to produce detailed analysis, case writing, and fact finds by 318%, 253% and 215% respectively.
Our brand MyEva can also help attract lower value clients as, like I said, through workplace engagement. I think this could be a ground breaker because it means the individual isn’t having to pay for digital advice. In addition, I think that having people receive digital advice in the workplaces a nice way of building understanding for the next generation of how they might be able to consume advice. That’s because there’s an assumption amongst the younger generation that you have to see a professional person in a suit and pay lots of money.
So, I guess we’re trying to trail blaze a new model that will allow people to imagine advice as something that doesn’t involve thousands of pounds and lots of spreadsheets –that it can be a bit easier than that. It also opens doors in time when they have accumulated more wealth and will have a need for full financial advice.
RT: What are the business benefits of targeting the mass affluent/younger client base?
AF: I think that if IFAs don't start to seriously look at a slightly younger and slightly less wealthy customer base as well as their existing client base, with IFAs' average age being mid-50s and clients' average age being mid-50s, they will be left to wonder where the next generation of clients will come from. I think unless IFAs adapt to that a little more quickly than they are now, the risk is the next generation will go to digital-only propositions launched by the global banks and other such organisations. So, the traditional financial advice sector maybe won't have that flow of next generation clients if they don't think about adding a digital channel more proactively.
RT: Is there a societal element also in being able to help start to close the advice gap?
AF: Yes, at Wealth Wizards we take the societal impact and social impact of what we're doing very seriously. As I said, our purpose is to make financial advice affordable and accessible to everybody, which I completely respect is not what every IFA is busy doing. Nonetheless, I think we've got to recognise the fact that, according to FCA figures, in 2019 there were only about 4 million people in the UK receiving financial advice. As there are 50 million adults in the UK, that means only 8% of the adult population received advice in 2019. I doubt it’s much different today. That isn't enough and that isn’t meeting the need when you think how complicated finances have become in terms of managing a portfolio through to your retirement and then having enough money to live in a comfortable retirement for what might be 20, 25, or even 30 years. These are complex challenges that a lot of people in society are grappling with. The advice profession has got to play its part and step up to the plate, I think. There are benefits in that for the advice profession and the millions of consumers out there who want to better manage their wealth.
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