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Sites for sore IFAs

It seems to me that every day I find or am recommended something to look at on the web. Earth.google.com, myspace.comand ebay.com are commercially successful sites that have changed the way I view property, talk to friends, find out relevant lifestyle information and buy products.

But in these days of instant information and data retrieval, it is beyond me why it is so difficult for an IFA to find out what new technology-based products and services have been created for use by the IFA.

Anyone reading this copy of Money Marketing will most likely be sharing a wish to increase sales while minimising business risk. Without going on too much about the benefits that technology can bring to manufacturers and distributors, it is madness that after spending millions of pounds on portals, intranets and tools such as scholastical modelling, transfer value analysis calculators, asset allocators and open architecture platforms, it is very difficult to find who is offering what and to discover which is best of breed.

Could we not create an Amazon-type site with simple reviews of IFA-facing technology from back-office systems through to planning tools or wraps? Perhaps I am aiming too high but, like most people with money to spend, I like to shop around.

Perhaps it may be more achievable to create a site that lists new and existing IFA technology developments? Or will we have to continue to rely on message boards on sites such as www.ifabonus.co.uk where discussion on technology and other IFA issues take place?

As has always been the case, you cannot believe everything you read so watch out for the bloggers from the service or product provider companies posting glowing reports of their own products or services.

If an IFA sees a client who wants to transfer from an occupational scheme to a self-invested personal pension, he must track down the providers which offer the required product and rely on the information they provide in the hope that they have arrived at the best of breed with the compliance support and analysis tools needed. If only the available technology tools were listed in one place.

The portal www.Reita.org, which launched this month, aims to bring together all the information on property investment and the forthcoming UK real estate investment trust market for IFAs and stockbrokers. To achieve this worthy aim, fund managers, investment banks and quoted property companies have come together with a common purpose to raise awareness about the options for property investments.

Could we not have the same for other IFA-facing product lines or services? If a portal existed to carry information on quality financial planning technology, usage would increase.

Product providers will not happily tell IFAs what tools they offer on a platform with other manufacturers. This reminds me of the slowness of the implementation of Origo standards. Who do you think slowed the process? The industry needs to work together and synchronise the development work and associate costs so that IFAs can respond more quickly and cost-effectively to change.

Please can those with the technology development budgets agree to get into bed with each other and share with IFAs what they are offering – on the same platform? Even if they leave their pyjamas on and host the tools in their own domain and offer links, this would help the vast majority of IFAs move forward in technology terms into the 21st Century.

Kim North (kim@techand tech.co.uk) is director of Technology and Technical

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