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[Technology] Synaptic&#39s system

The product research tools from Synaptic Systems have been developed by professional IFAs. They are in use by 7,500 IFAs, including directly registered firms, national chains and networks. The products are endorsed by the Institute of Financial Planning and by four of the leading compliance firms.

We believe Synaptic&#39s products differ from our competitors in offering independent, client-focused research. We provide information on the total market availability of products, irrespective of commission levels. The user interface is clear and well designed and can be used as a point-of-sale tool.

We help IFAs to meet their compliance needs in a thorough and structured way. Product Research Professional provides the IFA with many strong compliance features, including a unique research audit trail and a comprehensive reasons-why reporting facility. These features enable advisers to demonstrate their independence to clients and regulators.

The system leads the adviser through the criteria for a particular product area, ensuring that the client&#39s preferences and requirements are explored from the total market availability. Once a final product selection is made, the system can help the IFA to produce an extremely detailed, personalised report, with 1,500 standard paragraphs at their disposal, which explain the product selection in the context of the criteria resp onses. The reasons-why report can be tailor-made to the organisation&#39s own style.

Product Research Professional is backed by an extensive team of analysts and supporting staff ensuring that all new products are included and existing data is maintained on a daily basis. All data is reviewed quarterly to ensure the continued accuracy of the product information. This is a massive exercise with over 1.5 million individual items of information within the system.

A vital part of maintaining the accuracy of the data is the close relationship we have with product providers. The past performance data is sourced from Standard & Poor&#39s Micropal.

Product Research Professional takes advisers through six stages of thorough product research to achieve a comprehensive reasons-why report. IFAs first choose the product type. PRP covers pensions, life, health, investment, group products, offshore, credit cards and mortgages as standard. There are two different types of research available, which include client-focussed – enabling the adviser to tailor recommendations to the client&#39s needs – and product-focused – building comprehensive research tables to enable further detailed product comparisons.

The second stage is to enter the client details. PRP has full integration with the leading client management systems such as those from Quay Software, 1st Software, JCS, Fairs, Plum and CCL, enabling the adviser to pre-populate this area.

The adviser then moves on to the criteria screen. By selecting from all pertinent criteria, the system will eliminate contracts that fail to meet the needs of their clients from the market availability.

For example, when looking at a personal pension, the adviser will need to enter how important a waiver of premium option or automatic switching is to the client. By selecting a number of essential criteria, this will filter out unsuitable contracts.

Within this screen, the adviser has the option to select the sectors that their clients wish to invest into, depending on the client&#39s a
ttitude to risk. This information is sourced from Standard & Poor&#39s Micropal, with further fund information available in Fund Analyst. A timed audit trail can be produced to demonstrate the research process. Further information is available on every product provider, including their latest industry-related special offers.

The fourth stage provides the option for the IFA to research and compare in greater detail those remaining contracts, including a broad range of policy details.

The final stage in the research process is to rank the remaining contracts. By overlaying critical company data such as past performance, financial strength, transfer values, charges, paid-up policy values, etc. the adviser can establish the most suitable contract for the client. Extensive graphing options are also available. Comparative quotations via the EZ-IFA service can be obtained at this final stage.

To complete the service, PRP will generate a comprehensive reasons-why report, outlining the research process taken by the adviser. The client can clearly see why the particular product chosen has been selec ted in line with their wishes.

Fund Analyst was launched in October 1999 and offers a host of advanced features. It provides detailed information on over 14,000 funds, producing comparative graphs, asset allocations and comprehensive fund reports, as well as information on unit trusts, investment trusts, pension funds, life funds, offshore funds and ethical funds as standard.

Fund Analyst provides up to 20 years of past performance and has full integration with PRP, enabling users to conduct thorough product research to client requirements.

Synaptic&#39s independent team of researchers also provides asset allocation data, which is an in-depth view of funds, including a geographical breakdown, sector breakdown, top ten holdings, total number of holdings and the aim of the fund. Fund managers&#39 comments are available on some funds, giving details of the manager&#39s views on that particular fund, market commentary and opinions of future trends.

Following the launch of the Synaptic online quotation and transaction platform ez-ifa.co.uk, users of PRP and Fund Analyst will have a complete end-to end solution at no additional cost.

We will also be developing ways in which IFAs can use the internet to develop their businesses by offering the tools to compete in the changing financial services industry.

The application fee for Product Research Professional is £249 and there is a day&#39s free training. There is a monthly subscription charge of £108, which reduces on a sliding scale for large quantity purchases.

The service includes monthly updates via CD-Rom, unlimited technical and customer service support, continuous product development and ongoing telephone training Fund Analyst application fee is £50 and the monthly subscription is £55 for non-Synaptic users and £35 for existing Synaptic users. The service includes the same features as PRP.

EZ-IFA is free and includes EZQuote which offers single and comparative new business quotations from the UK&#39s leading insurance companies. IFAs also have access to new business processing, on-line product information (offering an extensive range of information in the product areas of pensions, life and investment), the latest industry news updated continuously from IFAOnline and the key feature document library.

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