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In Partnership plans paperless business

IFA network In Partnership says it aims to become a paperless operation by cutting in half the amount of paper used centrally and by its 450 RIs in the next two years.

It has invested 70,000 in scanning equipment and says most member firms will have the technology. It has already added the resulting cost reduction to its 900,000 profit forecast for the next financial year.

The firm says the advent of electronic mandatory compliance in spring 2006 has also encouraged the move.

Electronic signatures are growing in use within the industry but FSA rules still insist on original signatures on most client business.

In Partnership group chief executive Kevin McDonagh says: “Electronic documentation will be more secure than paper-based systems. If a building caught fire we would have everything filed offsite. We can also offer an audit trail, allowing us to give the FSA any information it requires.

“You can certainly see the way that the industry is heading. There are just a few examples of client-rel-ated business that still demand original signatures but I think we are heading to the paperless office and not before time.”

Technology and Technical founder Kim North says: “Since the Isa rules changed in 1999, there has been little momentum. We need to push the electronic signature as an acceptable standard for compliance purposes and to avoid dropping back to paper when the majority of setting up a product can be done online.It appears restrictive and outdated that we need to resort to paper for customers’ signatures.”

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