Iress: Tech is the only way to change the advice market

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Adviser software firm Iress says technology is the only way to improve the availability of advice to the mass market.

Speaking to Money Marketing, Iress UK managing director Simon Badley says: “Globally, there is strong demand for technology to support advice to the mass affluent and mass market and to do it in away that suits the behaviours of the consumer. This will support different advice flavours and different approaches.

“It is helpful that the [FCA] is starting to look like they want to support that change, and in real terms the only way you can do that is through technology.”

He says the firm is optimistic about opportunities developing from the Government desire to make sure that advice is more accessible at a mass market level.

The FCA and the Treasury launched a probe into the affordability of advice services earlier this month.

“Some people call it direct-to-consumer, and some people call it robo-advice. But we have existing distributor partners who are looking at customers in that mass market and mass affluent space and asking how they an offer a service to those customers using technology, and we are working with them on that.

“But we also know that providers and banks are looking at that space, and again we are working with them.”

The Australian technology supplier today reported UK revenues of £28.9m, roughly a third of group revenues of £86.6m, compared to 2104 figures of UK revenues of £28.3m, and group figures of £79.9m.

UK operations contributed £6.5m in profits, down 1.7 per cent from £6.6m last year.

Badley says the firm will grow its profits in the second half of the year and into 2016, in part thanks to an agreement to support Intrinsic.

He says: “The demand for Xplan has been really strong and the pipeline that we have and the way we’re executing that is looking really good.

“But unfortunately revenue has not been triggered in H1. It will follow in H2 and more importantly into 2016.”

Quizzed on the performance of the firm’s Xplan service since it was extended to mortgage customers earlier this year, Badley admits the firm failed in its messaging by leaving customers unsure if existing offline tools would remain.

But he says feedback from firms who have taken part in pilots for its online broker system have been positive.

Badley adds: “The first launch of Xplan Mortgage was around putting [the previous system] Trigold online to enable existing users of that sourcing capability to use it as an online capability. And to be clear, we are retaining the offline option as well.”

The firm is currently piloting new tools to help advisers from an initial fact find to a suitability letter.

Badley says: “We have had some people who have been troubled by it, but on the reverse, we’ve been piloting this and testing it, and in the pilot group the feedback has been very positive.”