As Australia continues to flatten the COVID-19 curve, we’re starting to see discussion turn to how we can reboot our economy to emerge in this new normal way of doing business and living life. The advisory sector is no different, we’ve all had to adapt to working remotely, communicating digitally and providing advisory services in a completely new economic climate.

1. This is all changing very quickly. Many Australians have found themselves in a very different financial situation with hundreds of thousands losing their jobs or being stood down. And while retail figures last month were inflated by panic buying, we’re expecting spending to fall as those stockpiling toilet paper and mince shut their wallets. It’s sparked some interesting questions around how to deal with personal finances, one which was covered by John Wasiliev in his AFR column this week. One reader asked how he can help his son who has found himself in a “remortgaging pickle” as a direct result of COVID-19. Specifically, the reader asked should he take money out of his SMSF – is it better to take it out of his account-based pension or his accumulation account? Wasiliev gives a detailed response going over the pros and cons of each here but notes the answer is one that has changed dramatically over the past few weeks with the market correction and the federal government’s announcement about the concessions for minimum pension withdrawal requirements. An example of just how quickly advisory is changing.   

2. Accessible, affordable advice. That’s the aim of H&R Block’s new initiative, rolling out digital advice for Australians seeking access to superannuation. We’ve covered this topic in the past two weeks including why it might not be the best idea to access super right now and how accountants are moving into advisory after ASIC replaced the rules for tax agents amid the coronavirus crisis. Perhaps more importantly, does this represent a slippery slope of non-AFSL holders moving into advice? Seems Covid-19 may loosen up aspects of the advice industry in the face of last years’ tightening under the Royal Commission. More here

3. Agile adaptation. With all of us practising social distancing, it highlights how much we’ve had to adapt to continue the human element of advice. As Ally Selby at the Financial Standard wrote this week, “the ability to connect with someone, empathise with him or her and marry this with a solution, has never been so important.” The adoption of technology is one-way advisors are staying connected with a survey of 177 advisors showing that one-third are making sure their businesses remain competitive and innovative during these times. More here

4. Digital or Die – that’s how Tahn Sharpe at Professional Planner described the move to embrace technology this week. “The technological tools and next-generation systems that advisers were gradually adopting have become essential now. Things like video conferencing, document sharing portals and scanning apps that were nice-to-have yesterday are the only way to service clients today.” More here.

5. This just got personal. myprosperity Founder Peter McCarthy published a blog this week detailing how the financial world of one of his mate Andy came crashing down around him as the COVID-19 crisis ramped up. He’s running a webinar next week on how business is now personal and what you can do to help your clients when they’re in crisis. You can sign up here.