The debt advice industry will have to look beyond funding barriers and embrace new technology to get the best outcomes for clients in debt according to a survey of delegates carried out before the Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG) Conference at the end of November. The survey showed that while almost half of the respondents feel that constraints caused by funding problems will be the biggest problem for years to come, one in five believe new technology will have the capacity to improve advice and that will have the biggest future impact.

Securing long term funding was considered by almost a third of respondents as having the potential to bring the biggest positive change in the coming year, closely followed by better affordability assessments by lenders. Since the conference two weeks ago delegates have been more optimistic about the opportunities presented by technology for the advice sector and its clients.

MALG’s Chair, broadcaster Liz Barclay, said: “We know that funding and capacity are big problems for the debt advice sector, but delegates are increasingly saying that if we are going to make real progress, we need to think differently about the future. If we can embrace Open Banking, challenger banks, and the rise of fintech they could offer us the potential to make debt advice more effective and efficient within existing funding and capacity constraints. I know funding is always at the forefront of advisers’ minds and quite rightly, but increasingly delegates are saying that if we don’t look beyond the funding crisis at how we can work smarter with the resources we have we could be missing opportunities.”

MALG’s Executive Officer, Bob Winnington, said: “It was interesting to see that before our conference on 27 November, which was all about shaping the future of money advice, less than a fifth of delegates saw new technologies as having the biggest impact on the future, but afterwards many commented that learning about the application of fintech and Open Banking in more detail had opened their eyes to its potential. “We are hearing from a lot of fintech firms who are willing to work with the debt advice sector and share their existing technology to make life easier, save them time and improve outcomes for their customers. We’ll be following up with those firms over the coming year to bring members of our regional and national discussion forums new insights on how we can all work smarter together.