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Sweeping changes

Why do innovative new players in a market so often get the brush-off from

the old guard? What are they scared of? When Orange entered the mobile

phone market, Cellnet and Vodafone dismissed the new competi-tion as a

gimmick. The same happened when James Dyson took on Hoover and others in

the vacuum cleaner business. Dyson would be sucked into oblivion, the

critics wryly commented.

Yet, both Orange and Dyson are typical of new entrants who have not only

reshaped their industries and forced the established firms to refocus but

have also brought substantial benefits to their target customers. How did

they do it – by knowing how to inject a powerful vision into their

industries.

So, it was no surprise that the sceptics were quick to pounce when Misys,

the FTSE-100 software group and owner of several IFA networks, laid its

cards on the table and said it would supply all IFAs, irrespective of which

network they belong to, with the tools to do their job. A bold claim but

one which, we hope when it comes to fruition, will not only help to

revolutionise how IFAs work but also leave them free to concentrate on

winning new clients in a ferociously competitive marketplace. It will not

be a dramatic change overnight but steady, solid progress over several

months.

With The Exchange in a dominant position, and other services in the

pipeline, why should IFAs switch to another provider? After all, too much

choice can sometimes be a bad thing. What was clear last year was that few

companies working with IFAs had invested the time and effort to help

advisers make themost of the online boom and rapidly changing industry

conditions.

Time and time again, in research we carried out over recent months, IFAs

across the UK made their views clear – they were being ill-served by the

technology around them.

In focus groups and questionnaires, they stressed they wanted a reliable

and efficient comparative quotes service that would help them do business,

not hinder them.

IFAs said they wanted the means to gather informa-

tion, on and offlinein all their product categories, as simplyand easily

as possible. More important, IFAs also said they wanted a secure service

which enabled them to get client-specific quotes and do new business

electronically with providers.

We believe what we have launched is a complete connection between IFAs and

the wider business world – something that delivers the necessary tools to

do the job and offers better functionality than that available elsewhere in

the industry.

For too long, IFAs have been denied the benefits of the e-commerce

revolution. Now, with regulation of the sales process driving up costs for

IFAs, services such as m-link will reduce the time that it takes to get a

quote and transact new business, helping to keep IFA costs down and

enabling advisers to concentrate on what they should be doing – offering

advice and service to clients rather than shuffling paperwork.

When Orange launched, it had no national coverage and Dyson was barely a

brand. If the critics were to examine the firms now, they would surely

admire the impact that they have had in transforming our use of the mobile

phone and the vacuum cleaner.

So, what will the doubters be saying aboutm-link in a few years&#39 time and

the impact it had in the IFA market?

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