Anna Lane (pictured), chief executive of customer engagement specialists The Wisdom Council, said the financial services industry as a whole faced a communications block.
In a study, she said it was palpable when millennials ‘glazed over’ as advisers talked about pensions because, not only are pensions not understood, providers are not trusted.
While she believes advisers will have a growing role as the spearhead of growth businesses, there is a long way to go in dropping the kind of jargon which is “impenetrable” to clients.
She argues that the industry is complacent about the threat of trusted brands outside of financial services, such as Google, but it could learn a lot from companies like British department store John Lewis.
“The one which everyone talks about is John Lewis,” she told International Adviser. “People who shop at John Lewis and interact with their staff say it feels comfortable and fair.
“With the slogan ‘never knowingly undersold’, they can evidence that fairness. It is also in the way it is set up as a partnership.
“Fairness can be seen as really important. We have done research with wealthy clients which show how clients will research a firm’s corporate and social responsibility before investing with them.
“Financial planners can certainly learn from firms like them.
“I genuinely think it is about communicating to people what financial services can do. They really want advice and it is incredibly important to society but it is hard for clients to understand – for me it is about making the complex simple.”
Lane launched The Wisdom Council in 2013 following seven years running a specialist wealth and asset management marketing consultancy. Prior to that she worked in the City for over 20 years, in roles including head of international marketing for JPMorgan Private Bank and Morgan Stanley Investment Management.