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Cast the net offshore

The internet has revolutionised the way IFAs are doing business. Current

financial information is always readily accessible at the touch of a

button, sales aids and literature are available to download at a moment&#39s

notice, illustrations can be carried out in seconds and IFAs can manage

their entire portfolios online. Is this the reality? No.

Product providers have promised all these functions since grasping the

potential of the internet lastcentury. However, few websites have supplied

the IFA with any considerable business support. Indeed, many sites perplex

us with complicated navigation, superfluous animation and redundant

information which only serve to confuse the end-user.

It must be said that many of these sites look fantastic. If you had a

budget of hundreds of thousands of pounds your website would look fantastic

too. But many lack any real depth or value to the IFA. They are, in

essence, on-screen glossy brochures.

Many companies have come into the internet race like the White Rabbit from

Alice in Wonderland – scurrying around busily, crying “We&#39re late, We&#39re


As a result, they seem to be throwing vast sums of money at website

designers who are far too preoccupied designing state of the art sites

which look great but neglect the nature of what the tool was originally

intended for – making our jobs easier.

This is particularly the case in the offshore financial market. IFAs

working from offices around the world rely heavily on remote communication.

This is nothing new. Even before the internet and email, IFAs were

dependent on reliable accurate information. But they were limited in how

they got the information and this is the fundamental point. They used tools

– and, let&#39s face it, very little has changed since the internet phenomenon

– such as the humble telephone, fax and, if you can cast your mind back far

enough, telex. These media were, and still are, rather unexciting but they

accomplish the jobs to get fast, reliable and accurate information from A

to B. So has anything really changed?

As the worldwide web has broken down international barriers and vastly

eased our means of communication around the globe, many international

product providers have missed out on an exceptional service opportunity –

using the internet to deliver the offshore IFA with an extra means to sell


As ever, there are some exceptions to the rule. Norwich Union

International, for instance, entered the internet fray earlier this year –

after the launch of their company – with a comprehensive and well-designed


This site offers registered IFAs facilities to generate online quotations

and get up-to-date valuations and commission details.

Another international product provider has created a screensaver which can

be downloaded from its website and updated on a daily basis.

This screensaver not only gives the user regular updates of market

movements, it also provides daily headline news from, with

hyperlinks to the Bloomberg site and downloadable literature.

Further developments could include an IFA extranet facility that will

enable the interrogation of client portfolios and the executionof switching


Hopefully, more product providers will soon realise the tremendous

benefits to themselves and to IFAs worldwide in developing their glossy,

plastic, corporate websites into real business tools. The industry is

crying out for more function and less fluff.


West Bromwich Building…

West Bromwich Building Society is coupling up with the Severn ValleyRailway to help its members get their savings on track and raise money forthe Worcestershire-based steam railway.Senior manager (retail operations) Rob Williams and fireman Roger Smith(pictured above) helped a new affinity account for the railway&#39s 20,000members and supporters get full steam ahead.Each year, the society […]

CGU hots up war with free pensions

CGU Life is aiming to attract IFAs by offering free individual andpersonal pension plans until April next year.The move marks a major escalation in the pension war in the fight formarket share in the run-up to stakeholder.CGU will waive initial and annual charges and it will pay standardcommission levels until the start of stakeholder in […]

B&B to become an independent mortgage broker

Bradford & Bingley is turn-ing itself into a mortgage broker and its 600high-street branches into independent advice centres.The plans come as part of B&B conversion document, issued this week,openingthe campaign to demutualise the society.A B&B statement says: “The society will continue its strategy of providingchoice and independent financial advice”. It says mortgage broking will berolled […]

FSA conjures up stakeholder seminar

The FSA has written to pension specialists at leading life offices askingthem to attend a seminar to discuss stakeholder pension decision trees.Ironically, the seminar to discuss the issue which has baffled much of theindustry is to be held at the headquarters of the Magic Circle in London onJune 16.Life offices say they are waiting to […]


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