FECIF - The European Federation of Financial Advisers and Financial Intermediaries

Editorial - January 2024

Simon ColbocSimon Colboc
FECIF & FEPI Secretary General

2024: the year ahead for Financial Advisors

As we settle down for a well-deserved new year break, now is a good time to reflect on the events of 2023 and what we expect in the coming year.

As we prepare to open the Champagne (or Cava, Sekt, Prosecco or whatever your favourite bubbly happens to be), we believe there is a lot we can celebrate at the end of this difficult year – and there are also many fights to prepare for in the year to come.

2023 was a momentous year for Financial Advice

The COVID crisis had left European households confused and lost – but also sitting on a pile of cash with hundreds of billions of euros in additional savings. The geopolitical events, from Ukraine to Israel to Gaza, but also the US-China tensions and the disruption of global supply chains added to the confusion and anxiety. And the return of inflation and higher interest rates have upended sectors of the economy.

In a wider perspective, the demographic change across the Continent and thus the need to increase long-term savings to ensure better financial security in retirement has been made more visible to all by the still timid changes made in some countries.

At the same time, global warming is creating an entirely new economic environment, threatening the long-term value of many traditional investments (unless they adapt) but also generating a confusing array of metrics and labels.

Households thus feel they need to save more than ever before yet are confused as to how best to invest their savings. Many have not yet fully integrated the notion of financial risk and return (not helped by the lack of financial education but also by confusing messages from regulators) yet they are now expected to ponder the impact of their investment on global warming, human rights, corporate governance, or sustainable development. No wonder some are feeling somewhat lost!

In this context, financial advice is more important than ever, to enable savers to make informed choices about their investments, and we all know how important face-to-face advice is for such important and complex decisions.

Yet 2023 saw unprecedented attacks on the economic model of financial advisors and intermediaries across Europe, with the European Commission’s proposal to regulate business models and eliminate commissions, the main source of income for many advisors, as part of the proposed Retail Investment Strategy (RIS).

2023 was also a year for unprecedented collective action

Faced with the menace of RIS, FECIF worked together with other European associations (representing advisors, brokers, provides and others) to carry the voice of advisors and intermediaries to regulators and policymakers – successfully, as the worst provisions were dropped from the text.

Equally important, FECIF worked in close cooperation with its core members, national associations of financial advisors and intermediaries, to ensure messages to national regulators and to MEPs were fully aligned yet would take into consideration local specificities in terms of regulation, advisor business models and household expectations.

The immediate threat to financial advisors and intermediaries has been averted for now – but we feel we need to remain vigilant as long-term challenges remain.

2024 will need continued mobilisation from us all!

We at FECIF will maintain our strong focus on our main mission, advocacy. We will carry the voice of financial advisors and intermediaries to policymakers and regulators at European level. We will also continue to make European regulation accessible and understandable to our members.

We will work closely with our members, the national associations of advisors and intermediaries, to ensure a coherent voice for financial advice across Europe, and to focus the effort where it is most effective, at national or European level, as the case might be.

We will continue to engage with other associations, representing intermediaries, providers, and consumers, to promote the development of financial advice throughout the Continent.

And we will continuously aim to help European households build a stronger financial future.

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