Advisers could actually be confusing clients in the post-Retail Distribution Review (RDR) world as their pursuit to find ‘right product' gives customers too many options, delegates heard.
Aviva intermediary director for pensions and investments Andy Beswick said that changes in the market brought on by RDR - such as more transparency and more rigorous suitability checks - could mean customers are given too much choice and may not fully understand what they are being offered.
He urged advisers to be extra mindful of how they explain products to clients.
He also warned of the increasing danger of conflicts of interest as ever more complex products are introduced.
Speaking at the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP) conference, he said: "It's almost inevitable that, as the world gets more complex, as financial services models become more complicated, conflicts of interest are more and more likely to happen.
"How we identify them, how we approach them and how we disclose them to customers is a really important thing that everybody needs to focus on.
"It's about placing the client's interest first. The question is: how do we all know what the clients' interests are? Is there ever a case for trading off the very best solution for the customer with one that is simple, that they can understand and can engage with?
"Are there ever circumstances in which those trade-offs are allowed?"
He went on to explain that advisers often think that products or fees are simple to comprehend but customers, who lack the background knowledge, may not fully understand them.
He said that transparency, the main aim of RDR, was "in the best interest of consumers" but it was also at odds with simplicity and advisers should be very mindful about how they explain various charges and propositions to their clients to make them understand what's best for them.
"In financial services its right that we always strive to produce the best solutions for our clients but does that mean that they can always engage with them in a way that's right for them, that they can understand?
"We do ourselves a disservice because - as we drive down cost, as we give customers great value, as we bring in transparency and we start to bring in simplicity - if we don't present that to customers in a way they engage with, we are not completing the journey and we are not doing the full job."
Providers have also in the past built products that were too complicated, he said.
However, he added: "Things are starting to change and get better".
Companies are increasingly building their products for a target market in terms of solutions and price points but the industry still has a long way to go, he suggested.
From 6 January 2020
Due to Brexit
Main reason MSK