There are more than 695,000 advisers and intermediaries working in the investments, insurance and banking products sectors across 15 major European countries, according to research carried out recently by the European Federation of Financial Intermediaries and Financial Advisers – which called that figure “staggering”.
Insurance was found to be the strongest product sector for financial advisers across Europe, the same FECIF research revealed – perhaps unsurprisingly” – with more than 282,000 insurance brokers and more than 275,000 insurance agents found to be operating in the 15 countries surveyed by FECIF’s researchers.
As reported last week, the FECIF research findings are contained in what the federation is calling its “White Book 2017”, which it said it is providing at no additional charge to FECIF members. Copies may be orderered from the FECIF website by non-FECIF members, by clicking here.
Although most of the White Book 2017 research is currently hidden behind a paywall, FECIF executives agreed to disclose some of it to International Investment as a good-will gesture to the European advisory industry, in hopes that it might help the industry’s member firms to better understand the field on which they’re playing.
Among the research report’s other notable findings was that Germans like life insurance, while French investors favour investment funds. At least that’s what the FECIF data suggests, as it shows the German independent advice sector intermediated approximately just one-tenth of the amount of investments funds that their French counterparts did; but it intermediated almost three times more life insurance than the French.
“France and Germany were found to be competing as the strongest advice sector in Western Europe, when we excluded fund and insurance centers like Luxembourg and Ireland,” FECIF vice chairman Jiri Sindelar, pictured, who oversaw the research project, noted.
He said the advice sector in Eastern Europe was less well developed than was the norm in Western Europe, in line with the region’s relatively less developed economy. Of the Eastern European countries, Poland seems to have the strongest intermediary industry in absolute terms, but the Czech Republic and Slovakia have better-developed sectors in relative terms, he noted.
For example, in the Czech Republic, the independent advice sector transacts two out of three new life insurance contracts written there.
“Regarding the contribution of intermediary sales to the GDP of respective countries, most member states in our sample oscillate around 1% to 2 %, and this is also similar with the sector’s contribution to employment,” Sindelar said.
“The main exceptions to this are seen in two of the largest countries – once again, France and Germany – where advisers‘ activity contributes 4.4 % and 6.5 % of GDP respectively. ”
Help from FECIF members
According to FECIF, much of the information it obtained for its White Book had been provided by FECIF members, notably the various national trade associations.
As well as this input from its own national trade association members, FECIF also obtained, verified and collated data from official databases of public institutions and publicly available information that had never previously been collected and analysed in this manner.
Data collected included sales turnovers, the value of contracts intermediated, and the total workforce employed in the sector.
As reported last week, among the questions FECIF said its research answers include how strong the advisory workforce is in Europe generally, as well as in each of the individual states; how many financial products (by number and value) are sold by advisers to individual customers, on a per-country basis, and also across Europe; what the volume of assets directly influenced by the advisory sector is; and finally, a measure of the contribution of the sector’s activity to national and European economies (eg, GDP, employment, financial market performance).
The 15 countries included in the FECIF research were Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and the UK.
Paul Stanfield, FECIF secretary-general, has said that the FECIF report marked the first time that “resilient, extensive and internationally comparable” data on the distribution of insurance, investments, loans and pension schemes across Europe had been collated, and that FECIF officials were hoping that their White Book could be updated “at least every two years” going forward, or even annually.
Based in Brussels, FECIF is a non-profit organisation that was chartered in 1999, to support and promote financial advisers and intermediaries acrosss Europe.