It is important to recognise that implementing any of these systems will require significant planning and effort on the part of the adviser firm but there are probably very few other steps an adviser can take to significantly improve their efficiency and profitability.
Against a background of such a mature market, some people might question why True Potential would want to launch another system targeting the IFA market.
Anyone asking this question has clearly never met David Harrison or his colleagues. Having proved with Positive Solutions that it was entirely possible to deliver quality technology to advisers and use that as the cornerstone of building a highly profitable adviser business, Harrison was never going to walk into the sunset and enjoy the wealth he has doubtless accumulated until he had made the benefits of technology available to the whole of the IFA community.
The news that True Potential has been appointed as the recommended solution supplier to the 1,700 advisers who form Tenet Support Service signals a watershed deal. It was inevitable that Harrison and his team would be the supplier to the Positive Solutions business they built but this is the first time that a major competitor to Positive Solutions has adopted the True Potential software.
The support services arm of the Tenet organisation provides compliance supp-ort and other services to its members but is not responsible for their authorisation. Members can buy services either as a package or as part of a menu of facilities, with the True Potential technology now being part of that menu.
According to Tenet distribution and development director Keith Richards, the decision to select True Potential as their preferred supplier in this area rather than any of Tenet’s existing technology suppliers, was driven by the overall functionality of the system and the fact that it offers a complete end-to-end solution. This enables advisers to use technology sensibly from start to finish with easy-to-use functionality and navigation.
Richards believes we are seeing a fundamental change in adviser attitudes towards technology as firms begin to understand that technology drives out costs and improves efficiency. He ascribes this to advisers recognising changes in their clients’ behaviour.
“The broadband boom is encouraging more and more IFAs to use technology as an enabler within their business. As advisers start to use technology more, they get a greater appetite to include technology in everything they do. As enquiries about technology and its uses grow, commission processing is becoming particularly attractive with the timely payments it can enable. Advisers can now use technology end to end in their business processing.”
Adviser attitudes to using technology in front of clients also seem to be radically changing. As Richards points out: “Advisers are now able to use broadband in clients’ homes to make technology part of the process. Wireless networks mean you don’t have ask clients to move furniture around to give you internet access, as was the case in the past.”
These changes in attitudes from IFAs come at a time when many adviser firms at a corporate level are increasingly seeing the extent to which providers can support electronic services as a primary driver in deciding which life offices and fund managers to select as their main business partners.
It has taken the industry a long time to get to the situation where most of the core business processes can be operated electronically. This fundamental change in attitude from firms and individual advisers could not be better timed as it will enable efficient organ- isations to operate far more effectively in the challenging environment of the year ahead. I think Tenet have got the timing of this arrangement spot-on.
However, having access to technology is only part of the process. It is essential to recognise that advisers will only get best value out of services when they invest in the right level of training. Additional costs often dissuade advisers from this important part of the procedure but these costs are included within True Potential’s standard arrangement.
From the outset, a relationship manager is put in place to take responsibility for installation and agree with the advice firm who the super-users will be within its firm. The super-users then attend a three-day training course in Newcastle, tailored to the particular needs of the firm and the services they want to prioritise. This includes the setting up of electronic communication, online valuations, client-facing websites with policy valuations and giving the clients access to their own online fact-find.
Again, with other systems the costs of setting up such services frequently involve extra charges. Under this arrangement, the cost of system, training and data transfer are all covered by a flat charge based on commission processed though the system, typically 2.6 per cent, although individually negotiated with each user firm. The contract is arranged between True Potential and each individual Tenet Support Services member firm.
True Potential senior partner Daniel Harrison is particularly bullish about data transfer from other systems. In his own words: “If it is electronically stored, we can get it.”
The company has excellent credentials in this area, having successfully achieved a 3.5 terabyte transfer from Positive Solutions, so transfers from other systems should not be a problem.
By selecting True Potential as their recommended supplier, Tenet Support Services are offering their members access to a powerful solution that can bring substantial benefits to their business. This is combined with a detailed training and implementation process to ensure IFAs actually make those efficiencies a reality within their business.
Deciding to buy a software system is not what transforms an adviser business, that comes from making the system achieve its true potential, which is presumably where the name came from. Certainly this combination of software, implementation and training is well placed to allow this to happen.