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A win on aggregate

Account aggregation offers consumers the ability to view and manage all their online relationships from a single website operated by a bank or a portal.

Over the last year, it has been a major topic of conversation and has provoked much interest in the press.

However, the focus has been on the benefits to consumers and institutions offering the aggregation service. While the impact to IFAs has occasionally been considered, concerns have been raised regarding potential disintermediation. There are a number of aggregation solutions which will prove that aggregation provides many benefits to the IFA community.

IFAs have long been conducting a form of account aggregation by manually pulling together disparate pieces of a client&#39s financial picture so they are better placed to offer advice. The fact-find has some benefits but it is a tedious and labour-intensive part of an IFA&#39s work and it is no less boring for the consumer.

Having pulled together the client&#39s information regarding their savings, investments, assets, debts, pension, insurance and will provisions, the ability for the IFA to maintain and use this information to offer ongoing advice is a difficult and costly process.

IFAs adopted product aggregation technology early on so that product comparisons could be made across all product providers for a particular client&#39s needs. However, depending on the product bought, little follow-up occurred from one year to the next.

Imagine a world where account aggregation is widely available and a client is seeking advice from his existing or new IFA. Within seconds, the client can share his aggregated personal balance sheet with the IFA, eliminating big sections of the fact-find.

Furthermore, the information is current and easily updated every time advice is subsequently sought. Imagine that this information can be used proactively by the IFA.

The IFA can view all their client&#39s information, sort them by asset type, amount of idle cash, big deposits and products held and send out targeted information from their PC to the client.

You may be thinking that this is all in the realms of fantasy but a number of aggregators are already offering solutions to address the IFA market.

Clients can select which accounts they would like the IFA to see before they send the IFA a copy of the summary statement. This process takes just a couple of seconds so it is easy for the IFA and the consumer to discuss their situation in real time.

In fact, some solutions, such as e-trade adviser in the US – can select the best possible allocation of mutual funds based on the customer&#39s financial goals and link the client to a particular adviser.

Some of the aggregators will also offer IFA partners their own branded portal so that the IFA&#39s customers can register for the individual IFA&#39s aggregation service.

Given the points above, account aggregation should be high on the wish list for many IFAs. It will not only save them time and effort by simplifying the fact-find but will also enable them to improve their service to their most important customers.

Marketing campaigns can be put together and implemented to target individual client goals and more effective advice can be given since the IFA has an up to date and complete financial picture of the client.

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