Your business

Supporting your evolving business and clients' needs

Noel Butwell

Noel Butwell, Managing Director, UK Distribution, considers the trends impacting the advice and investment management industry, and the subsequent evolution of the relationship management models of Standard Life and Aberdeen Standard Investments.

Supporting your evolving business and clients' needs

The UK financial services market continues to experience significant change. I'll share my reflections on the trends defining the expectations of advisers and their clients, and how we're responding to support the market as we bring our distribution teams together.

There are three key forces driving change in our industry.

Shifting advice and investment business models:

  • Regulation is continuing to shape and change the advice landscape. The scale and pace of the journey from RDR, Pension Freedoms and then to MIFID II & GDPR is unrelenting. The impacts are widespread as firms adapt their business processes and client propositions
  • Client needs and the required solutions continue to evolve; as demand for advice continues to outstrip supply

Client needs and the required solutions continue to evolve; as demand for advice continues to outstrip supply

Challenges in investment markets:

  • In low inflation, low return environments, cost becomes an area of increased focus and we've seen a rise in the use of lower cost investment components as a result
  • Scale is needed to compete on a global basis and offer the breadth of capabilities and innovative solutions that are required to meet client goals
  • With market volatility and political uncertainty likely to continue, delivering the solutions clients need will require innovation and increasing amounts of individualisation

New client perspectives:

  • Consumer expectations, and in particular their digital experience and service demands, are being set by other industries. At the same time, responsibility for investment risk is moving from institutions to individual investors. This is creating changing needs that we all have to respond to
  • It's fair to say that we're only at the beginning of the journey. The disruptive effect of initiatives like open banking and the Pensions Dashboard have not really become apparent yet
  • The change in ownership of assets will shape the services that platforms, investment managers and advisers have to provide, with £1trn of assets set to move between generations over the next 10 years

Evolving to support your current and future needs

Our business has already been through an extensive transformation project, with the merger of Standard Life Investments and Aberdeen Asset Management, and the sale of our UK and European insurance business. Our vision is to build a world-class investment company, with a modern operating model.

Like the businesses we work with, we need to continually review how we work to ensure we utilise the expertise, skills and relationships we have to maximum effect; analysing trends and considering insight from market data, clients and colleagues.

We have, therefore, announced the integration of the Standard Life and Aberdeen Standard Investments distribution teams. In doing so, we have created one of the largest teams in the UK, responsible for managing relationships with firms across the financial planning and investment management industry.

Bringing the teams together allows us to create an environment where we retain and respect individual specialisms and clearly defined roles. Sharing best practices to develop a deeper understanding of client needs will enable us to offer the solutions and service you need, both today and in the future.

The talent and market knowledge of the team we have in place will ensure we have the flexibility to provide the right level of expertise and appropriate resource as and when clients need it. This is reflective of the changing market we are in.

However, whilst our ambition is always to deliver an outstanding client experience, we must also be considerate of the regulatory environment that our businesses operate in. This means respecting the individual relationships and propositions that our clients choose to access from Standard Life and Aberdeen Standard Investments respectively, and maintaining appropriate confidentiality.

As we evolve our operating model I appreciate that, in some instances, it may mean a change to long established relationships. Where this is the case for you, please be assured that my executive team and I are committed to making sure you get the right support at the right time for you and your clients.

Offering the service and experience you expect

As Sinead Fennessy, Standard Life's Platform Operations Director, covered recently, we know that an overwhelming 97% of advisers rated service as either ‘extremely important' or ‘very important' for a truly great experience.

97% of advisers rated service as either 'extremely important' or 'very important'.

It remains a top priority for us and our success in this area has been independently recognised recently with a Defaqto Gold service and Adviser Asset Platinum rating for both Wrap and Elevate.

Because building genuine relationships is what makes the difference between offering a transactional service and offering an exceptional experience that meets the needs of you and your clients.


The information in this article or any response to it should not be regarded as financial advice.