The Fidelity Investor Trust Survey found that banks remain the leading partner of continental European savers, with 68% buying products via this channel during the previous 12 months. However, this proportion had declined “significantly”, it noted, from 74% in 2010. In addition, just 45% of purchasers through a bank said the bank had been influential in their choice.
Instead, savers are turning to alternative sources of advice, including IFAs (selected by 16% of respondents), product provider websites (12%), relatives and friends (8%) and the media (6%). In the UK, a market traditionally less reliant on bank distribution, just 36% of respondents selected banks as influential, followed by IFAs (22%) and product provider websites (16%).
Trust was an “important” factor in the declining influence of banks in continental Europe, the study said. It noted that European savers’ confidence generally has been shaken by the financial crisis, with 31% of respondents less confident in their intermediary since 2008. Communication was a key problem, with 89% saying they did not understand the information given to them.
Gary Shaughnessy, UK managing director at Fidelity, said: “As the [problems] in financial markets continue, the industry has entered a critical phase with regard to its relationship with investors and savers. Mistrust and confusion is rife and has led to increased criticism of institutions, products and advisers.
“We must, with the financial industry as a whole, better consider and defend the interests of European savers to meet the challenges of long-term saving. This has to take place in the context of today’s regulatory attempts to renew the contract of trust between the industry and savers.
“Clear and simple explanations are what investors require. In this context, it is regrettable that the European Commission has chosen to delay investor protection initiatives such as the Packaged Retail Investment Products review which has great potential to reduce consumer detriment”.
The 2011 Fidelity Investor Trust Survey was compiled with the support of TNS-Sofrès. Savers and investors were surveyed between 12 July, 2011 and 1 Aug, 2011.