Phone advice service offered across CFS dealer groups

Colonial First State’s phone-based limited advice service is being extended across its financial planning groups.

Financial Wisdom and Commonwealth Financial Planning have taken up the service, while the other groups aligned with Colonial First State are expected to do so soon. The phone-based advisers have grown from five since the service was launched to eight, and Colonial First State Advice Business general manager Paul Barrett said it would shortly grow to 14 advisers.

Financial Wisdom took up the service in the first quarter of the year and since then about 45 per cent of all calls resulted in an updating of client information, said Barrett. He said the next step for the service was continuing to invest in information technology that would streamline the flow of information between the groups and the service.

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Barrett conceded that while there may have been some negativity towards phone-based advisers from certain quarters in the financial planning sector, he said feedback from those who were utilising the service had been very positive. He said the impact of the global financial crisis on business revenues as well as the regulatory reform in the pipeline meant that there was pressure on advisers to enhance their service offerings and better engage their clients.

“This service enables them to better engage more efficiently,” he said. “It’s a natural progression of the advice offering in changing times and being able to provide a service like this in an opt-in environment will be very important.”

Barrett said that one of the reasons that only 25 per cent of Australians sought financial advice was because “holistic advice is not for everyone”. He said that complex advice could be expensive and asserted that there were a lot of people out there that would seek financial advice if they could find a less complex and more accessible service.

Barrett said people assumed that the phone-based service was developed to lower the cost of providing advice to C and D clients, but he asserted it was for all clients with simple advice needs. Since the phone-based service was launched, the average referral brought in an extra $2,000 in revenue per client that the financial planning practice would otherwise not have got, he added.

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