In the public’s imagination, the stereotypical adviser is, lamentably, a middle-aged, middle-class white man running a traditional business. That traditional business, Joe Public would assert, probably comes with a traditional world-view when it comes to issues like immigration, sovereignty and European “bureaucracy”.
The results of a Money Marketing research project canvassing adviser views on Brexit suggest the picture is a little more nuanced in the modern advice profession, however. In what we believe to be the most extensive polling on the subject, nearly 400 advisers gave us their views on everything from the political implications of Brexit to border control and law-making.
Stereotypes are borne out to some extent. On the one hand, most of our sample – 86 per cent of which was male, mirroring FCA data on the advice market – leans Conservative and thinks that the Government just needs to get on with Brexit. They rate David Davis and Boris Johnson much more favourably than Emmanuel Macron or Jean-Claude Juncker, who scores almost comically badly with a 10 per cent approval rating.
But nearly 60 per cent still voted to remain on EU referendum day, and would do so again if another referendum was held tomorrow. Nearly half agreed that remain voters’ views were being ignored.
The principal reason for a qualified remain vote seems to boil down to the modernisation of the profession: advice firms have had to become smarter businesses and adapt to the changing regulatory and economic environment. They don’t want these to shift again.
They believe having free trade with the EU and protecting EU citizens’ rights is far more important than controlling borders or ensuring the primacy of UK courts. The majority support a transition period to mitigate the worst effects of a cliff edge, and many advisers I speak to are concerned about the implications of passporting on ex-pat clients.
Advisers are understandably worried about what a “no deal” might look like for their businesses, and the handling of negotiations up to now has failed to inspire many with confidence – advisers have so far given the impact of Brexit on their job role and company a net negative score, which goes considerably further into negative territory on a “no deal” outcome.
However, a good deal – or at least the one that the Government wants – and advisers will be pretty pleased, saying it would be rated positively. As ever, no two advice firms are alike, and the plurality of views on Brexit we have uncovered illustrates that each will have different pushes and pulls on their business from leaving the EU. But, as with most other major events, the advice profession is well placed to weather the Brexit storm.