View more on these topics

Ian McKenna: Resisting the sales push on adviser software


In my last column, I considered how recent developments in the world of industry software have changed adviser priorities when selecting systems. This week, I want to examine a factor that has been a constant challenge: defining the right requirements for any new system.

In my experience, when software projects fail to deliver what the adviser wants, it usually boils down to one of three things. Two of these – the importance of training and having suitable change management processes in place – I will address in a future column. This week, I want to focus on how to make sure you get the system you need rather than the system someone wants to sell you.

Software suppliers understand exactly what the strongest elements of their systems are and, given the opportunity, will build any demos around them. For this reason, it is crucial to take firm control of any presentations that take place and ensure each potential supplier goes through exactly how they address the functions most important to you.

All too often, the first thing an adviser firm will do when considering new software requirements is ask a number of suppliers to present their solutions to them. However, this should be one of the last things on the list. Rather than looking at what suppliers have to offer, firms should conduct their own internal processes in order to identify what their priorities are across the business.

One technique I have seen used well is for each part of the business to identify a list of 10 things that are really important to them, 10 that would be nice to have and 10 that would be a real bonus. Small firms with just a couple of staff can still use this approach but might want to look at it separately for each of the core areas of activity. Having created these lists, compare them to identify which features come up most frequently.

From here, build a final list of requirements and priorities and then write to potential suppliers asking them to document how they can be met. Once responses are received, create a shortlist based on those who have recognised what you have asked for. If they gloss over or ignore any area the chances are they cannot support your needs.

Only at this stage would I suggest inviting suppliers in for demos but, again, make sure each vendor focuses on your priorities not theirs. It is a good idea to tell the providers in writing in advance of any demo exactly what you want them to show you. Make it clear selection will be based on ability to address those areas you have identified. Do not allow them to deviate.

Before taking a decision to proceed with any software system be sure to talk to some of its existing users. Try and engage in discussions around the specific features you have identified as important to you. Online forums can be a great way to connect with others for this purpose.

The technology that firms select as their core operating systems will be used day in day out and will have a massive impact on the profitability of the business. With this in mind, the decision is not one to be taken lightly. Making the wrong decision is something that will be regretted every day for many years. It is almost impossible to do too much homework before reaching a conclusion but, hopefully, the above guidelines should help firms make the right selection.

Ian McKenna is director of Finance & Technology Research Centre



Ian McKenna: The secrets to successful software selection

There seems an unprecedented level of interest among advisers recently for reviewing the technology they use to run their businesses. Consequently, over the coming months this column will mainly focus on how advisers can better prepare for and conduct a review of their software as well as look at a number of the leading systems, […]


Profile: Bravura’s Tony Klim on technology in the new pensions era

Bravura Solutions group chief executive Tony Klim was lucky enough to work through the “golden age” of UK software in the 1980s and 1990s, when banking was becoming hi-tech with the introduction of credit card systems, online payments and secure networks. Now he is anticipating another exciting era in financial services technology, as pension freedoms create […]


Royal London sells D2C platform Fundsdirect

Royal London has sold the client book of its online fund supermarket, Fundsdirect, to direct-to-consumer investment platform Strawberry Invest for an undisclosed sum. Through the deal, £15m of client assets will initially transfer to Strawberry but this will increase to £21m over the coming 12 months. Additionally, over 400 clients will transfer to the D2C platform, […]

FCA logo new 620x430.jpg

Wheatley: £3.2m software write-off was a mistake

A £3.2m write-off for software licences bought but not used by the FCA has been described as a “mistake” by outgoing chief executive Martin Wheatley. Earlier this month the regulator’s annual report revealed it had entered into a one-year contract in May 2014 to purchase several software licences. The FCA pre-paid in order to receive […]

Is volatility dead? No, sell credit

There are several arguments that one could currently make for why credit markets look unattractive. These include signals that the US economy is in late cycle, the fact that corporate leverage has been increasing (with 2016 setting a record for the amount of global bond issuance), and that US high-yield default rates have risen considerably […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Roland Rawicz-Szczerbo 24th August 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Bang on Ian

Leave a comment


Why register with Money Marketing ?

Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

Money Marketing Events
Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

Research and insight
Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

Have your say
Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

Register now

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm