I don’t make a habit of singling out the propositions of individual providers or intermediaries but the new workplace benefits portal from Lorica seems a quantum leap forward in the project loosely known as corporate wrap.
Other companies are doubtless working on similar services and some may have already launched for all I know but Lorica’s Bigblue benefits and financial aggregation system feels like genuine progress to me.
Currently in pilot with a view to going live next year, Bigblue will enable employees to see a massive array of live data across pretty much all their financial services and utility providers. Screen-scraping technology allows the system to bring in live feeds of current and deposit accounts, Isas, pensions with other employers and providers, mortgages and more. Input your utilities and it will also give you a monthly picture of your spending and suggest how much you could have saved by switching to other named providers, with the option to click and fulfil to do so.
Like other systems, Bigblue will be able to give breakdowns of portfolio, key holdings and performance of particular funds as well as modelling tools. It also tells you how well your portfolio is doing on a year-by-year basis and how much you are worth overall by factoring in a Zoopla valuation of your house and live feed to your mortgage.
At £10 per employee per year, the system seems incredibly cheap. But for Lorica, the information it gives about the individual finances of the workforce has its own value.
The firm suggests the data generated by the system means it will be able to target specific significant advice opportunities. For example, if it knows 40 employees are about to hit the lifetime allowance, it can arrange a seminar on site followed up with face-to-face sessions on an adviser charging basis.
Then there are the pension transfers. If an employee inputs the details of an old stakeholder-friendly scheme with a 1 per cent AMC onto the system, why wouldn’t a non-advised transfer to the existing 0.3 per cent scheme be a suitable move?
What previously required advice and a full report could theoretically be done at the flick of a switch. The regulator will want to have a good look at it but it is hard to see the client detriment.
A couple of years ago, before auto-enrolment filled the minds of everyone in the workplace benefits community, all the talk in the corporate advice world was of how the workplace was going to challenge the high street for access to the post-RDR non-advised middle Briton. Auto-enrolment is still very much on the agenda but systems such as Lorica’s Bigblue appear to be able to offer the functionality that has been talked about for years.
Whether it turns out to be providers or intermediaries who end up owning this relationship remains to be seen but alignment of interest will be key to getting employers and employees on board with what could prove to be truly ground-breaking technology.
John Greenwood is editor of Corporate Adviser