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Why DBS deal will benefit all IFAs

From the press coverage in recent weeks, you&#39d have thought that DBS and Misys had been cast in a David and Goliath battle, portrayed as the mighty network giants intent on domination of the financial advice market.

In reality, I believe that we are playing David in a market that&#39s witnessing a frenzy of mergers involving some of the biggest providers in the world.

In the 18 years since founding DBS, I have never known a more competitive time. Overseas providers, such as AMP, are quickly expanding their presence in the UK market – buying Towry Law and the internet site, Interactive Investor International, in recent weeks.

With Bristol & West buying Chase de Vere and Willis National, and Bradford & Bingley snapping up Charcol, the pace of consolidation among IFAs shows no sign of abating.

As always, in times of change, I want DBS to play a vital role in the revolution so that smaller IFA businesses can survive and prosper.

Although the volume of business is increasing, as consumers realise that they need impartial advice while planning their retirement needs, smaller firms of IFAs are having to find extra resources to compete against these big players.

Advisers certainly appreciate the need to raise their game, improving standards of service and offering better quality advice. I truly believe that they can only do it by embracing technological change.

I an an ardent believer that the further development of a leading portal, building on the achievements of Assureweb and m-link, will lead to a win-win situation for all IFAs.

Why am I so certain? Because we know better technology does bring benefits to those that work in paper-based sectors.

Take a glance at the airline industry. The internet has strengthened the position of Easyjet, which now completes over 90 per cent of its business online. Consumers have embraced the company because it has made travelling from A to B so simple.

I think we can do the same for IFAs, taking out unnecessary costs while speeding up the time it takes to process an application.

Reducing costs means that IFAs can spend more time concentrating on what they do best – giving valuable advice. Their clients, who are increasingly cash-rich and time-poor, expect superior levels of service. Better productivity in the office means either more clients or more products being sold to current clients.

Our plans for a new, combined portal should help the life and pension industry cut its costs significantly. It will be faster and cheaper to service policies and cut out the wastage caused by manual errors, for example, on application forms.

I believe the Misys/DBS combination will deliver a “portal of choice” in the advice market. Many IFAs keep telling me personally they are hungry for something better than the existing offering, which currently dominates the electronic quotation market.

I have made it very clear that I want to stay at the helm of DBS so that I can clearly see the benefits start to emerge. I know that IFAs want a reliable electronic trading facility that links to their back-office systems so that the whole advice process can be seamless.

Both DBS and Misys are confident, with the combined resources of the two, that they can create a service that will be the talk of the industry. There is no doubt that, working in tandem, we can build a quality service that will help IFAs transform their working lives. By removing excessive paperwork, we should be able to make the compliance and regulation processes that little bit more bearable.

All IFAs will gain an advantage. Processing costs will be reduced and quality of service will improve. Product providers should be able to make efficiency savings because they will be dealing with one portal instead of two. Consolidation of portals is something they support. Life companies, although eager to work with technological solutions that would reduce costs across the industry, have finte resources.

Importantly for IFAs, their clients will also benefit from a better service because their IFA will be able to spend more time giving better advice.

DBS members have asked me if the network will be weaker under Misys. Far from it, and members know this is not something I would countenance. Misys has confirmed that DBS will continue to operate under the same name, with the same culture, from the same headquarters in Huddersfield.

Since 1983, DBS has built a strong reputation for quality and professionalism – assets that Misys clearly recognises. We will not be throwing those assets away in the months and years after the deal.

As those readers who know me will already be aware, I have long been convinced that the future for IFAs is very positive.

For all of us, it will not just be business as usual but even better business. It is a future that we can now all face with confidence.

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