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Portal to the future

IntelliFlo’s Intelligent Office system is used by 850 firms and has over 6,000 users. Nick Eatock gives his views on the market for adviser technology

Nick Eatock Chief executive officer, IntelliFlo
Nick Eatock Chief executive officer, IntelliFlo

How have you been adapting Intelligent Office in preparation for the RDR?
Much of it has changed already. Client portal access was very important and has been very successful, with lots of advisers using it with their clients. It can help gather information for the first meeting, which means that advisers are not spending a lot of time chasing client details and makes that initial meeting much more focused. Some advisers now go through the online questionnaire with clients over the phone. This maintains the personal contact but saves time for both client and adviser.

It is all white-labelled, so can be branded with the logo of the adviser. We are living in a world where consumers don’t always want to work face to face. This is the kind of service they get from internet banking and they expect it from everything else.

Other things we have added recently include financial planning capability, fund analysis and portfolio rebalancing. Electronic valuations have become more and more sophisticated. Now advisers can completely populate their asset allocation with underlying funds. It used to be that 30 per cent of the workforce of an advisory business spent all their time on valuations. I believe RDR is a significant threat to the distributor community as it stands but once it is properly understood it will be an opportunity. It won’t be for everyone but I do not believe that the market will shrink by 40 per cent. Naturally, I bel – ieve that technology will be an important part of that. It should help advisers to deliver different advice to different clients and improve service.

How do legacy assets such as with-profits fit into your model?
Legacy assets such as with-profits are still the clunkiest bit in terms of technology. We have good relationships with the life companies and have achieved 100 per cent pre-population but we are aware it could be better.

How are you working with wrap platforms?
We are working with the wrap platforms at uniting the whole business process. Platforms recognise that by harnessing both the front-office tools and back-office functionality within Intelligent Office, they can get greater and more effective access to distribution. Technology needs to facilitate what the adviser already does. Uniting the whole process is key, so that when an adviser needs to rebalance a portfolio, he can simply say “go execute” and they can do it in a moment. We want to be able to say to the market, if you want to transact with Nick Eatock Chief executive officer, IntelliFlo We believe the client portal will be huge and a lot of our focus is on generating feedback from the user groups this platform, you can do it, so this is what we are working on and will be announcing details shortly.

Where do wrap platforms end and you begin?
Wrap platforms originally thought they could be a onestop shop for everything. This might be true if the adviser is a one-man band using one platform, with no legacy assets. It could happen but it is just an unrealistic situation, all clients come with baggage. We want to help advisers manage their businesses. The wrapper’s function is to aggregate while we process the deal instructions. CRMs have been said to be a threat to wrap but, if you do it sensibly, the two can co-exist very nicely.

Why do you believe the answer is web-based technology?
I am determined that the future of adviser technology is webbased. With a web-based system, advisers can get continuous updates – up to 1,000 per year – and it is more responsive to user demand. The post-RDR world will require this kind of responsiveness.

What is next for IntelliFlo?
We believe the client portal will be huge. A lot of our focus is on generating feedback from the user groups. We have national and regional user groups that get together on a regular basis. We run roundtables hosted by the advisers or by providers.

These generate some quite healthy debate and this is important to us. Advisers are very happy to share who is good and who is bad. It helps us evolve our products and spot trends.

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Comments

There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I agree with the comments around web based technology and also feel that increased empahsis on “self-service” for customers is a cruicial way forward, I do have real concerns around consumers capabilities to look at their financial circumstances and make un-emotional decisions. If application providers can provide portal capabilities as described above faciliated with real time adviser communications then the opportunity is certainly there. Solutions delivered through the web and built on single source code models come with risks but the benefits in terms of reactiveness to market and sheer breadth of capability ensure they are never discounted.

  2. Providing clients with more control via a web based solution is definitely the way forward in financial services.

    So far IntelliFlo have ensured that their offering allows advisers to control what actions are available to clients through the current client portal service.

    Assuming this continues to be the case it will certainly allow advisers to take a risk based approach in helping their clients achieve their financial objectives by granting that access appropriately.

    The potential for more flexible business models which provide a mixture of self service and consultancy backed up with a rock solid audit trail is an exciting prospect in my opinion.

    There will no doubt be a requirement for the adviser to fully explain the process to their client in order to ensure the client understands the implications of self service.

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