Many advisers will become financial planners post-RDR but is there still room for technology to facilitate that process? In particular, can it offer a solution for advisers’ smaller clients that can be used by less experienced staff members? 2020 Adviser director Niall Shaw believes that the group’s newly-launched financial planning software can fill this niche.
The software is a joint venture between Metis Solutions, which was established in Ireland in 2004, and large CRM platform Salesforce.com.
Shaw and his partner were both retailed bankers for the Bank of Ireland but left in 2000 to set up a financial services brokerage.
Two years later, they set up a technology company with a view to developing a financial planning product. 2020 Adviser was launched in November.
The software provides a structured financial planning tool and has largely been aimed at the bankassurers and tied salesforces but Shaw believe that it also provides an efficient way for advisers to deal with smaller clients.
The product offers structured sales guidance that can be delivered by a less experienced person. It is designed to add something extra to a transaction arrangement.
Shaw says that his company has done work with advisers who have multiproposition offerings and believes that advisers can use this type of software to service some legacy clients that cannot afford fees. He adds: “Using an online model enables a number of possible methods, including an internet approach.” He thinks this “self-service” option should fit neatly into a post-RDR world.
The software can also be “mashed up” to provide an integrated offering. Traditional adviser offerings have been end to end. Shaw says: “We see opportunities for a best of breed offering to be created this way.”
The group is planning to link to wrap providers but this has proved a long process. This is an increasingly competitive market and the first group to integrate with the wrap providers will gain a significant advantage. In the meantime, 2020 Adviser seeks to differentiate itself through its salesforce link, believing it reassures customers that the technology is efficient and effective.
Shaw says: “We have been providing an online CRM package and have over two million paying users on that. People pay per user per month.”
The finance industry needs to become more customercentric. It needs to understand customer needs better and communicate effectively
The charging structure has been built to allow businesses to scale up or down as required. It also means that there is no upfront investment or ongoing maintenance contract. The system has monthly updates, which come through the web. Shaw adds that the platform can be customised for individual businesses but works from a core system, which makes it quicker to get people up and running.
When using the technology, the first steps identify the needs of the client. For example, it will prompt a discussion on how much life cover is needed. It has pre-determined risk parameters that seek to find out all the relevant characteristics of the customer.
Once the action is agreed with the customer, the user is moved on to the planning tools. The system links with all the quote systems. The user then gets a list of quotations and can produce a recommendation. The system holds life, pension, investment and other insurance products.
Shaw says: “The industry needs to become more customer- centric. It has to understand customer needs better and communicate effectively
in whatever way they wish. This is about building financial planning tools into existing customer relationship management tools. As part of the RDR, people will have to be in touch with their customers much more and maintain more customer information..”
For Shaw, the industry needs to rebuild trust with its customers, both as part of the RDR and its post-credit crunch rebuilding exercise. He believes that effective technology solutions can help that process.