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IFAs will have a unique opportunity to take part in a debate with the industry regulator about the role of electronic business in financial services. With CP198 on the horizon, the regulator&#39s requirements for electronic reporting will be one of the key issues on the agenda at the Advisertech show in Bristol this month.

The event, taking place on February 26, will feature FSA policy manager, operations directorate Peter Cardinali, who will be part of a panel of experts discussing the impact of technology on the intermediary business. Visitors will be able to put their questions and concerns to the panel that also includes Stuart Louden, investment director of Hargreaves Lansdown, Julian Telling, director of the Falcon Group and Money Marketing technology columnist Ian McKenna.

With increasing regulation and pressure on margins, learning about the benefits of electronic business will become crucial. Paul Pettitt, managing director of industry standards body, Origo, says: “Technology is not the whole solution but it cannot be denied that it can drastically improve operational processes and, when used to its full potential, can provide a seamless link between product providers and IFAs. It is imperative therefore that IFAs embrace e-commerce and make the most of every service available to them.”

Some in the industry, however, believe it is fear of learning that is a barrier to e-commerce adoption. Helen Jones, training manager at Synaptic Systems, who will be hosting workshops at the show, says: “Technology has evolved to make our lives easier, yet many of us fear that learning how to use it effectively is far too daunting. It is only when learning how to use it properly that it relieves the pressure on the adviser.”

Similarly, American financial services author Joel Bruckenstein, who will identify how US financial planners use e-commerce to reduce paper-based administration, believes mental attitude is just as important as the technology when it comes to making the most of what tools are available to IFAs.

He says: “Financial advisory firms of all sizes can significantly raise their profit margins by using the tools of the virtual office, but beyond the hardware and software, though, is a critical requirement, the paperless mentality.”

Aside from the main conference, visitors to the show will also be able to visit a PC clinic and an exhibition where they will be able to interact with some of the latest solutions available.

To find out more about Advisertech at the Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, phone the 24-hour hotline on 0870 246 7763 or visit the website at www.advisertech.co.uk

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