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On the right track

Two weeks ago, I looked at how the detailed integration between True Potential’s client management system and its new wrap offering can deliver real straight-through processing benefits to adviser firms. Wrap providers have the advantage of building new systems but the life and pension community need to achieve a radical transformation in the way it does business to compete after the RDR.

I am seeing an unprecedented level of effort across the market to deliver seamless working between advisers and product providers, not before time many services that have been talked about for years are finally going live.

One service that has long been promised to advisers with very little actually appearing is new business tracking. I have always believed this is a service that, from the adviser’s perspective, is best operated from within their client management systems as this is the natural place where they would maintain a holistic view of client interaction.

Also, not before time, we are seeing more detailed pre-population delivered into portal comparison services from adviser client management systems. There should be no reason why advisers should have to re-enter information they have already captured in one system to another.

Last week, I was given the chance to see how one industry player, the business formerly known as 1st The Exchange, N4, has put this into practice.

The level of integration provided between Adviser Office and The Exchange portal means users do not have to access the portal services separately but simply select quote and research from a left-hand menu in the Adviser Office client record.

Clicking on the Exweb button opens the comparison service. By selecting the desired product from within the quotes service screen in Adviser Office, this opens Exchange in a new window and pre-populates data.

The system automatically applies any default values for the product the user has selected for Exchange. The pre-population capabilities can also be adopted by other client management system suppliers, something I would urge them to do. The quote process used is the same as on the standalone service but now users do not need to leave Adviser Office to operate it.

When a product comparison has been obtained, this is returned to the Adviser Office system. Any print created as part of the process is stored automatically to the Adviser Office client record. By clicking on the new business link from within Adviser Office, users can open a link to the provider extranet. This, in turn, can pre-populate the application with the data from the quote and other information from Adviser Office such as the address.

I understand further pre-population capabilities are in test and expected to go live in the near future.

The new tracking service operates by messages being pushed from providers to Exweb overnight on a daily basis. These are consolidated and can be downloaded by the adviser each morning. These are matched to the client record by comparing forename, surname, date of birth and policy number or Origo ICRN identifier.

An exceptions list is created for any that do not attach and these can be associated manually by the adviser. Any subsequent messages for the same case will automatically attach to the client record.

By accessing the individual plan record for a pending application, the adviser can see the current position.

From the demonstration I have seen, it is clear that the quality of messages supplied varies significantly between providers. The depth of providers tracking messages is one of over 40 areas benchmarked in our enhanced protection e-Excellence ratings to be published in a dedicated supplement in Money Marketing on April 14 which should help advisers form a view of which providers are making the best use of such services.

A separate process from within the report server section of Adviser Office can build a report of all the messages received. This can be from all providers on the service, with a user-defined data range including all or specific message statuses. This should be very valuable for administrators in helping stay on top of getting cases in force as soon as possible.

Presently, provider adoption of the new service is patchy. Just Retirement, Legal & General, Prudential and Standard Life all deserve considerable credit for being among the earliest adopters.

Tracking is perceived by some as an activity primarily related to protection. I have never believed this and this is something reinforced by the fact that the service can already provide information on a very full list of products. Annuity services include compulsory purchase, purchase life and immediate vesting. Protection covers level, convertible, mortgage (both term and decreasing), critical illness, income protection, business protection and whole of life. For bonds, with-profits, capital investment and distribution products can be accommodated. Pensions include individual, Sipps and a range of group contracts. Even lifetime mortgages can be monitored.

This must send a clear message to the missing providers to add their contracts soon.

In delivering this new functionality, the business that now wants us to call it Avelo is providing important enhancements to its Adviser Office users. The potential exists for similar functionality to be offered by any other client management system via the Exchange integration.

What I have seen makes a compelling case for both other systems and product providers to accelerate their adoption of these services as they have the ability to reduce the time and effort that advisers otherwise have to spend chasing the progress of new business.

In delivering this new functionality, the business that now wants us to call it Avelo is providing important enhancements to its Adviser Office users.

The potential exists for similar functionality to be offered by any other client management system via the Exchange integration. What I have seen makes a compelling case both for other systems and product providers to accelerate their adoption of these services as they have the ability to reduce the time and effort that advisers otherwise have to spend chasing the progress of new business.

Ian McKenna is director of the Finance & Technology Research Centre

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