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Ian McKenna: 12 Christmas wishes for better adviser tech

Platforms still have plenty to do, while Mifid II and the open banking initiative offer new opportunities

The last year has seen more firms embracing technology as an opportunity to work smarter, enhancing their services and increasing profitability. This week, I want to look at 12 areas of adviser tech that should be priorities in 2018.

Mifid support

My first wish is for more Mifid reporting support, as this is going to be a significant burden on advisers from January. Morningstar and FE are already doing great things in these areas. I particularly like the services FE has built to support the new Aviva FNZ platform. It is also worth looking at InvestCloud, which can do some very clever things to bridge gaps between systems.

Platforms

My second wish is to see far deeper integration between platforms and advisers’ core systems. Platforms must get over the fact a deep integration could mean their brand is not all over the adviser’s screen and recognise this delivers a better experience.

Intelliflo’s Wealthlink and Distribution Technology’s Wealth Connect are good examples of the right way to enable straight- through processing with multiple platforms. I also really like some of the work done by Sprint Enterprise to facilitate client reviews.

The best in class for a single integration has to go to True Potential for its deep practice management and platform connectivity, but my third wish is for it to deliver the same functionality to advisers who want to use other platforms. My fourth wish is for platforms to open themselves up to reflect off-platform assets and give a more holistic view of wealth.

Standard Life offering parts of the excellent Focus system to its platform advisers is a really interesting development. There is huge potential in weaponising more of the Focus offering. Expect deals like this to be a big new trend next year.

More data for mortgage advisers

My fifth wish is also for more data but this time for mortgage advisers to help them reduce the time taken in client meetings. Richer client data will enable more accurate loan acceptances. I like the work being done by Twenty7Tec, HD Decisions and Castlight Financial, all of which are making positive moves.

Protection

My sixth wish is that protection providers would get a better understanding of how advisers actually run their businesses and build their supposed straight- through processing systems to reuse all the data firms have already accumulated.

Heaps of praise for all Royal London has delivered in its protection initiative for London & Country. More providers need to follow suit and offer the same to advisers.

Sticking with protection for my seventh wish, can we have proper integration between price comparison portals and quality research systems? Of course, I would like advisers to use F&TRC’s Quality Analyser system but I should also mention Alan Lakey’s CI Expert.

Advisers should not try to make critical illness recommendations without help comparing the wordings. If we can bring price and quality together we can really help customers understand value.

Open banking

Open banking starts in January, so my eighth wish is to see advisers embrace this important initiative. Intelliflo, Moneyhub and True Potential all have personal financial management offerings that can help advisers leverage this.

Robo paraplanning

More robo paraplanning tools would help advisers reduce the cost of advice, so my ninth wish is to see more join the couple that are already around. Robo paraplanning means machines doing the hard number crunching while advisers add the soft skills.

While still a firm believer that fully automated advice will gain significant traction, hybrid solutions are mixing the best of technology. A word to paraplanners: this is not me advocating the replacement of your job but giving you more opportunities to serve more advisers and clients. The most employable people in the next decade will be those who can best interact with technology.

Automated decumulation advice

On the same theme, my 10th wish is to see those firms offering automated advice services extend these more into decumulation, not just accumulation. Early in the New Year I plan to look at some really exciting new services in decumulation that will address both income drawdown and equity release in the same system.

Pensions dashboards

No Christmas wish list from me can end without considering pensions dashboards. My 11th wish is for delegated access to be included within the minimum viable service from day one.

Dashboards can only reduce the cost of advice if advisers can access them directly once clients have provided consent.

My final wish is for automatic enrolment dashboard services to help the millions of young consumers stay engaged and enrolled in the pensions they have already joined, as well as being able to see any previous schemes side by side with current contributions. This could be delivered in months not years.

So that is my lot for 2017. Thanks to all the readers for your attention in the last year. I wonder how much of the above will arrive before I write my Christmas advice tech wishlist again next year?

Ian McKenna is director at Finance & Technology Research Centre

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