Consumer Duty and business levels top yearly cherry forum topics

Consumer Duty, attracting new business on social media and business levels for brokers were the top three most talked about topics this year on cherry’s adviser forum.

The forum, which attracted more than 35,000 unique visitors across the first 11 months of 2023, has detailed some of the most active threads during that period.

Consumer Duty led the discussions across several threads. After its introduction on 31 July, brokers expressed their fears and frustrations with the new regime, including differing interpretations of the Financial Conduct Authority’s requirements.

Debate centred around whether documentation that brokers would give to clients would change, which was the main regulatory topic on the forums after 31 July, concerning requirements around vulnerability.

Many advisers expressed their concerns that they may well be unintended consequences for the FCA’s views over vulnerability, and that the intermediary community may feel forced to avoid anyone they think could be classed as vulnerable from a fear of falling foul to the new regulatory regime.

Another popular topic in terms of views related to the subject of attracting new business on LinkedIn. There was continued debate on the forum about the merit of using social media for business development purposes.

Throughout the year, cherry has stated that advisers, who were appointed representatives, expressed their annoyance about their networks not allowing them to write social media posts without being approved by the compliance department, often with a wait time of two to three days.

The emergence of TikTok and whether it was a valid channel to pursue new business was discussed repeatedly, and those brokers who were comfortable with creating were more willing to try the platform out.

Director at Mortgage Marketing Forum, Jeff Knight, said: "Social media is an important channel; however, like anything it has to be used well. There must be a purpose behind using it rather than simply creating posts.

"But for me where it adds real value is that brokers can listen. They can follow clients online and comment on their posts. In essence, social is important but more so to engage in rather than use to blast messages."

Meanwhile, brokers were repeatedly using cherry to discuss business volumes with their peers and garner views on the future.

With the cost of living crisis, high inflation, rising interest rates and pressures of mortgage affordability, many advisers reported business volumes down year-on-year. However, with the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee holding the base rate for the past two months, there are signs the economy may be over the worst and some brokers are optimistic about business levels for next year.

Director at cherry, Donna Hopton, added: "More and more intermediaries have chosen to use the cherry forum throughout 2023, with visitor numbers up 6% year-on-year and total visits up by 2.5%. More importantly, users are becoming more involved, with the number of new threads created nearly 11% higher this year than in 2022.

"Users consider the cherry forum to be a safe space where they can discuss topics with their industry colleagues. With 2024 set to be a critical year for brokers looking to increase business volumes, I’m confident the forum will continue to grow accordingly."

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