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Ian McKenna: Cofunds best at supporting advisers’ digital efforts

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Two weeks ago I looked at the various microsite options Cofunds make available to advisers to enable them to provide clients with online access to their portfolios. While this is helpful, ideally, an adviser firm wanting to take full advantage of the digital world should be looking to provide an holistic summary of a client’s assets online.

To meet these more advanced needs Cofunds has further options that are available to organisations who are their strategic partners. Probably the best option for any firm that does not have a significant development budget is the new My Money service. This is being provided in association with Sammedia and can be used by advisers who operate Avelo’s Adviser Office client management system.

In addition to being able to show Cofunds holdings the service provides a far wider range of information, including details of all the financial products the adviser has recorded for the client within Adviser Office. The service is delivered as a series of modules that the adviser firm can choose to include or exclude. The adviser can also choose to switch off functionality such as fund analysis or fund transactions for selected clients.

After the initial login the client is presented with a dashboard, again configurable by the adviser. A series of modules, referred to as pods are available including, investment update, portfolio split, investment overview, net worth, property valuation and adviser contact details.

The client can choose to view eight sections, presented as tabs. These provide a very wide range of information. The investments tab shows plan valuations, taken either from Cofunds, Adviser Office or estimated if input by the client, the percentage increase/decrease in value, asset mix, growth vs income and IMA sector allocation.

The Portfolio tab allows the client to drill into more detail about their portfolio by looking at product level or fund/holding level details. Each value is marked to show which system has proved the valuation i.e. Cofunds, Adviser Office or estimated via FE feed. Where Sammedia have a Contract Enquiry integration direct with product providers this value is updated in real time within the system. Clients can also view transaction history for any Cofunds products and can carry out fund transactions in the same way as is supported using the Cofunds microsites covered two weeks ago.

A research tab enables the client to research any funds within the FE universe using FE fund feeds and analyse past performance for up to the last five years. The correspondence function uses an in-browser pop-up to display the same screen within Cofunds Microsite to show documents sent to client from Cofunds. Account Maintenance again uses an in-browser pop-up to display the Cofunds Microsite with the same functionality as described in my previous column.

Assets & Liabilities information is populated from Adviser Office and allows the client to add in any assets or liabilities they may not have disclosed to the adviser. The system does have the ability to send data back to Adviser Office. This is highly configurable and advisers can set the levels of information that can be supplied in this way. A property valuation calculator estimates property value based on the date of purchase, purchase value and either Nationwide or Halifax housing estimates for that area. Insurance details can also be shown via information populated from Adviser Office and also allows the client to input details of other insurances. Again the My Details tab replicates the same functionality from the Cofunds Microsite.

For the time being Sammedia have not been able to agree integration deals with any of the other client management systems in the market, although their CEO Mike Free tells me they are keen to do so. This seems a significant opportunity for such organisations to add real value to their customers who are substantial Cofunds users.

Overall this gives the adviser the opportunity to deliver a hugely functional customer experience extending far beyond the assets held on the Cofunds platform and offers an excellent customer experience. One disappointment is that the service does not currently include the aggregation capability Sammedia have in place via Yodlee. This means that True Potential is still the only platform that can offer this valuable service to their clients.

For advisers wanting to build their own functional customer website Cofunds can support a range of XML Messaging, this can support valuation data, transaction history and fund transactions.

The adviser firm either has their own site professionally built or uses another third party tool provider of choice to carry out the analysis, the data supplied and the way this is presented to the client. A number of major advice firms such as Chelsea Financial Planning use this service with other web designers – Chelsea’s service is delivered using Avelo Web Services. While fund transactions are carried out using XML this offering from Cofunds does not presently provide the functionality for the full personalised illustration to show full platform charges with only a generic illustration being supported at this time.

Each time Cofunds amend their primary service this does require bespoke development by the advisers web designer in order to reflect this. Consequently I would see the My Money partnership between Sammedia and Cofunds as the optimal solution for Cofunds advisers looking to make a major impact with their online proposition.

The above offerings combined with those I outlined two weeks ago lead me to believe that Cofunds is doing more than any other mainstream platform to support advisers in building their digital experience with consumers, I would however be delighted to be proved wrong so if anyone thinks there are other organisations doing more, please do contact me.

 Again, an extended analysis of the above service carried out by my colleague Adam Higgs can be found at his Blog at http://www.ftrc.co/blog/adam-higgs/

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Comments

There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Surely these articles should have “Advertisement” displayed all over them. Is this really independent journalism?

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Mr McKenna is obviously using his articles as a blatant way to further his own consultancy service. Money marketing this is shameful.

  3. Anonymous 10:11, your comments would carry so much more credibility if you had the integrity to use your own name, rather than hide behind anonymity. Ditto Anonymoues3:00 PM As for promoting our consulting services I have had no involvement in the design or delivery of these services form Cofunds although the adviser community would be well served if other platforms and life office delivered similar services

    Having extensively studied this subject for many years I am in no doubt that delivering a comprehensive digital presence to consumers should be seen as a crucial element of any adviser firms service proposition. This is an area where many advisers are failing to recognise changes in the ways consumers access information.

    Cofunds have put together an extensive range of offerings to help advisers in this important area. The equivalent offerings from some other platforms are to put it politely limited. Whilst Cofunds have put together an excellent proposition in this area I close the piece inviting anyone who thinks there may be a better offering out there to identify them if they exist. Do you have such a suggestion?

  4. Cofunds is in a right mess over RDR. Now being owned by a life company their prospects are looking pretty grim. Transact is far easier to deal with and also allows advisers to use investment trusts, which is something the regulator obviously wants to see more of.

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