NAB-owned MLC Direct has appointed a new general manager, whose goals include connecting Australians to financial advice through their preferred channels and increasing the number of advisers within the MLC Advice network.
Speaking to ifa, new general manager Vanessa Rowe said it is important to recognise that consumers have changed the way they access information, and are open to receiving advice beyond face-to-face.
"I think we will see that customers will continue to access personal advice, but some may want to self-direct or gather information through other means prior to seeing a planner," Ms Rowe said.
"It's important we can assist customers with that sort of financial education and advice and be able to connect them to the right channel, at the right time."
Ms Rowe – who was previously head of MLC Advice for three years – added that offering customers a variety of advice channels, including digital or over-the phone advice, may in turn connect them to face-to-face advisers.
MLC's phone-based advisers have spoken with more than 27,500 customers in the past year, she said, with about 7,500 of them eventually referred to a personal adviser.
"We may provide general advice to those [over-the-phone] customers, but we also have identified customers that have more complex needs and need to see a personal adviser in one of our networks," Ms Rowe said.
Ms Rowe would also like to grow the number of MLC Advice office in Australia from 27 to 40 by 2016. These "stores" are franchisees, run by self-employed business owners and advisers.
"MLC Advice is part of the aim to make financial advice more accessible to Australians and is designed around removing the barriers that 80 per cent of Australians have in accessing advice," Ms Rowe said.
"[We want to support customers] wherever they choose to start their advice journey. They may walk into an MLC Advice centre and then, later down the track, want to call in or utilise an online tool.
"It's about how to make sure we can give them a consistent experience across the different means."
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