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Ian McKenna: How tech is bringing advice home

One of the biggest challenges of 21st century working life is how to work most efficiently with technology. Those who evolve the best ways will have the best job prospects and potentially the greatest income in the future.

Therefore, technology services that embed the role of the adviser within the process while automating necessary but cumbersome and time-consuming compliance requirements have a huge amount to offer.

I recently looked at one such solution which has been achieving spectacular results, both for its customers and in awards ceremonies. Vizolution is the brainchild of Bill Safran, whom many will know of from his days as one of the founders of IFonline, the business that became Trigold. 

Compliance support

The service delivers many functions which, at first, you may think could be as easily obtained from free services such as Google Hangouts, Skype, Go To Meeting or Webex. The difference is that Vizolution has been built explicitly to meet the needs of mortgage and financial advisers and refined to deliver key functionality to specifically support compliance processes.

Vizolution is a screen-sharing and communication platform with obvious use for protection, mortgage and even investment business. It has been built with a core requirement to work first time all the time and can therefore use any web browser, tablet or mobile device. Most importantly, it does not require any software to be downloaded to the device being used by either party to participate in the call. This means communications are not affected by firewalls, which can otherwise be a challenge when screen sharing with larger organisations.

Our own experience is that when communicating with larger firms, you need to work out which screen-sharing services their firewall will allow through in order to communicate effectively. That this is not an issue with Vizolution is a huge benefit.

Importantly, this technology build has been focused around ensuring the service can operate even with very limited internet connections.

The standard version is available via vScreen.org but most customers have their own branded sites, such as santandernow.co.uk and landgnow.com.

Typical use of Vizolution would see the adviser direct a client to the appropriate website and ask them to input their name and a session number. The system can also be embedded into the provider’s website so that any consumer browsing the website can click on a “click to call” button and be taken directly into a session.

Once the consumer is connected, the adviser can take them through a wide range of content from web pages to calculators and online forms. 

Terms and conditions and disclosure documents can be shared with the client via downloads. Consumers tick boxes to confirm they have read and understood these documents and the service can capture electronic signatures.

From a compliance perspective, the firm using the system can lock down the content that can be shared and thus create a compliant process for the adviser to follow. This is a major advantage over most other screen-sharing applications which cannot accommodate such controls.

Santander has been using Vizolution as part of its credit card application process and has improved conversion rates by 45 per cent while reducing the time taken to make a card live by 12 days. It has received 98 per cent positive feedback from customers. 

Legal & General uses the system in its Financial Solutions Direct operation, where business director Jon Roderick says: “vScreen has been an option available to both our protection and wealth advisers for some time. 

“We are constantly looking to improve the experience we provide and vScreen does this by creating a more visual experience for our customers, alongside a conventional phone call.”

Vizolution plans to release a small adviser version in the coming months and I foresee this service having enormous benefits for mortgage networks looking to make sure their MMR compliance processes are absolutely bullet-proof.

Awards success

In addition to the huge business benefits Vizolution is delivering to clients, it has had a glittering few months this year, winning with Santander the 2014 Innovation Award for Digital Customer Solutions from Professional Planning Forum and the award for Innovation of the Year from The Electronic and Software Technologies Network for Wales.

Earlier it was recognised for Most Disruptive Financial Sector Technology at the FS Tech 2014 awards and it was recently included in the FinTech 50, a shortlist of 50 companies in Europe that are redefining financial services through technology.

Vizolution is a great example of how technology and human-delivered advice can come together to deliver better outcomes for consumers. It is the sort of system that our industry should embrace.

Ian McKenna is director if the Finance & Technology Research Centre

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