Holloway Friendly has made public that they now offer Immediate Underwriting Decision capabilities. This development changes the way their advisers currently work, as they are now able to produce short and long term policies in minutes without automatic medical evidence requirement.
iPipeline has announced that Zurich (UK) has chosen their TCP LifeSystems’ SS/G (Self Service/Generation) digital solution as its new protection platform. Zurich is aiming to provide the highest quality solutions, with a best-in-class adviser and customer experience through the launch of the new protection platform.
The Aviva Platform has moved to FNZ technology. This move will mean advisers will now benefit from increased automation and a number of streamlined services designed to make the platform much quicker and easier to use.
The SimplyBiz Group is to launch an end-to-end financial planning system (Centra) to provide support to advisers throughout the investment advice process. Centra will offer access to integrated goals-based financial planning tools, product research and suitability reports. The service is powered by Defaqto Engage, the investment planning software. Centra will go live in March and will be available free to SimplyBiz Group members.
SimplyBiz has partnered with Just Group to offer its members exclusive access to HUB Referral Solutions (HUB). HUB is a new referral service offering access to retirement income planning, equity release advice and care funding advice.
Big news in the US as B2B Robo advice supplier Advisor Engine (previously known as Vanare) acquires a major CRM player Junxure
iPipeline acquires TCP LifeSystems. This should deliver some very interesting end to end capability for iPipeline and their clients. There will be a lot of potential to deliver enhanced customer experiences and grow the Protection market.
According to a new survey by Intelliflo, MiFID II and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have been the top two headaches for advisers during 2017. The survey questioned 300 users of Intelliflo’s management software, Intelligent Office (iO) and was aimed to discover what has been the highs and lows over the past year and look ahead to 2018.
Digital advice journey embraced by mortgage advisers. UK Mortgage advisers are poised to lead the way with a digital customer journey process, according to mortgage technology expert at Mortgage Brain.
FinoComp, the Australian technology business providing micro-services software to the UK wealth management market announces the launch of a new service called TierDrop. TierDrop is a performance calculation tool which provides platforms and DFMs with the data required to meet the new reporting requirements for MiFID II on the '10% deprecation rule'.
http://www.finocomp.com/assets/pdf/FinoComp launches TierDrop to support MIFID II reporting requirements.pdf
Synaptic Software, has added a new feature-based proposition on its Synaptic Webline protection quote and e-apply portal. The portal enables financial advisers to access quotes and information from insurance providers in real-time and streamline protection sales.
At Royal London, they have developed an electronic signature solution to speed up the payment of claims. They have introduced an e-AMRA for new business customers with DocuSign.
InvestCloud has launched two new financial apps called 'InvestCloud Gray' which provides digital capabilities to investment firms and 'InvestCloud Neon' which enables wealth managers and financial institutions to automate trading, accounting, and middle-office workflow.
Holloway friendly has expanded its new online underwriting process to help save advisers time and money by allowing protection advisers to write full and short-term income protection business in minutes.
The Finance & Technology Research Centre has released a workplace pension Robo Paraplanner that aims to help employers find a new provider.
The Finance & Technology Research Centre has also launched a quality analyser service for critical illness cover.
VitaliyLife has announced that it will be providing fully underwritten final decisions online for Type 1 diabetics who have attained good control of their condition.
Origo demonstrates Delegated Authority for Pensions Dashboard. Origo's Lead Architect talks us through the technical developments that we are involved in for Pensions Dashboard with a live demonstration.
VitalityHealth has launched an Adviser Hub platform, which offers 24/7 access and a range of developments for advisers.
Holloway Friendly has launched an online underwriting service that allows advisers to write short-term income protection business in a matter of minutes.
Scottish Widows protect joins IRESS' protection underwriting service. Scottish Widows joins an increasing list of providers who have also acknowledged the intermediary and customer benefits of providing partially underwritten protection quotes.
Vitality Life launches two new tools for advisers. The two new tools are called ‘Reality Checker’ and ‘Trust Hub’ and they are both expected to help advisers do business with their clients.
Synaptic Software launches a new retirement modelling tool called 'Synaptic Analyser'. Synaptic Analyser is a retirement income analysis and drawdown product comparison tool aiming to help financial advisers support their clients planning for retirement.
Mortgage Brain’s has launched a new version of the Key, offering a more customer-centric, digital advice journey through its integrated Client Portal. The recent development is in addition to the recently announced secure document and messaging capabilities and forms part of the many changes and improvements being made to offer adviser’s customers a more efficient digital advice journey.
Legal & General have launched their first Blockchain competition called 'Blockchain's Got Talent'. The competition concentrates on open sourcing, looking for a solution for personal identifiable information management and GDPR compliance for future insurance solutions.
Centapse and Oxford Risk announce a new partnership. The new partnership will offer behavioural finance consultancy, behavioural data analytics, and intelligent decision-support systems.
iPipeline partners with Unisure to inspire protection advisers to sell GI. Uinsure will combine into SolutionBuilder in a move that will avoid duplication of data and reduce the amount of time it takes advisers to source a General Insurance quote and write General Insurance business.
Orgio has developed Delegated Authority for Financial Advisers by demonstrating how Financial Advisers can access a client's Pension Dashboard through GDPR-complaint delegated authority.
Over the last six months or so we have been hearing more and more users of the CURO system from Time4Advice giving very positive feedback on the service. This includes a number of people we really respect, some of whom have a reputation for being hard taskmasters.
By building their adviser client management system on Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform the businesses founders Mitchell Philpott and Roland Rawicz-Szczerbo, who previously built the Quay Software business they sold to Capita, have taken a very different approach to delivering adviser software.
Because it is based on Microsoft Dynamics anybody who knows their Office suite well should feel familiar with the software. Microsoft have literally invested billions in developing Dynamics so CURO users will get the benefit of all of this development.
The system is very strong around the way it enables users to configure workflows and because of the Dynamics platform is exceptional in its ability to address campaign management.
For firms wishing to develop digital marketing campaigns with their customers' it goes a long way beyond what would be offered by a more traditional adviser client management system. That said if there is one shortcoming in the system it's that it doesn't actually offer its own client portal although they do integrate to the Moneyinfo system. For products that offer so much in digital communications I think this is a gap they should look to fill as soon as possible. Alternatively they could offer multiple third-party client portals by adding Moneyhub as another alternative.
It will be particularly interesting to watch how Time4Advice approach GDPR as given the focus they will need to build substantial support to meet the new regulations. In saying this it is only fair to point out that all adviser software systems will need to provide far more support to advisers in this area. If you're not already discussing this with your software supplier you should be doing so as a matter of urgency.
Pocket Risk is a London based risk profiling tool supplier that has been building a strong following in the US and recently introduced their tools to the UK. The web-based tool allows advisers' to set up a client on the system and then share a link to their risk profiling questionnaire online or send a PDF.
It uses a 15 question test split into four areas to assess:
The client's financial goals
Their financial situation
Their risk tolerance
Their capacity for loss
The adviser is notified once the client has completed the test so they can view the results. These include the plan goals, their risk tolerance on a score from 0 to 100, the capacity for loss varying from very low to very high, and a playback of their financial situation. A full summary of the responses to questions is included.
The cost of the system depends not only on the number of advisers but also the number of clients enrolled.
Another highlight this month was Synaptic introducing their Cover Me Now capability and enabling advisers to obtain "buy now" prices for clients from Covea.
The service uses a limited question set and unlike Underwrite Me which aims to streamline the full underwriting process, Cover Me Now is designed to be a very simple way for advisers to provide cover on clean applications.
We actually really like the way the system works and hope that more insurers will embrace it. It has already been adopted by Right Mortgage & Protection network and we expect more will follow.
Staying with the subject of protection it's great to see that LifeQuote have built a full range of case tracking capability into the Direct Life & Pensions administration system that advisers can access to understand the progress of their cases. This is another area where insurers should do as much as possible to help advisers.
March was a month when we looked at software that was outside the mainstream for various reasons.
Ian's favourite this month was a software package which manages to be both beautifully simple and bring some very fresh thinking to the challenges of continuing to achieve strong investment performance whilst protecting clients’ against risk in decumulation.
Ian first came across Bucket Bliss at the Technology Tools for Today conference in California in February. The software enables the adviser to divide a client’s assets into four buckets. The first provides income for the immediate next five years and is invested very conservatively. Bucket two will provide income in years six to ten so can have a modicum of risk. Bucket three will not be used until ten years’ time through to fifteen years, hence more risk can be included and bucket four provides income beyond fifteen years making it realistic to take a more aggressive view on risk.
Because of the higher levels of risk employed in the latter buckets it is expected that these will deliver increased returns hence over time should actually grow the saver’s assets more substantially than if a conservative risk strategy were taken across the whole portfolio. Periodically advisers can re-balance assets between the different buckets.re-balance assets between the different buckets.
You can see a demo of the service at https://www.bucketbliss.com/#modal-software-demo-trigger . Since we met them in February the company have started taking on users in the UK.
Users can configure buckets in a range of ways including the term of the bucket, the level of risk attributed to each and the amount of time income is required for.
As part of the process the service provides a score based on the "Bucket Bliss Index" comprising seven measures to identify the probability of a retirement plan reaching its objectives. We think this is a really great way of addressing decumulation risk, perhaps the best thing about it is that the concept is really simple for clients’ to understand.
It is worth mentioning that Technology Tools for Today is a great event, well worth attending if you are interested in how advice technology is developing in the US. We are organising a group to visit the show in Miami next February so please contact Ian if you are interested in attending.
The other main system we looked at in March is designed to reduce regulatory and professional indemnity risk within adviser firms. Model Office from Engage Insight benchmarks business management and compliance development against five key areas.
It has a range of tests to measure the extent to which personnel understand key regulatory issues as well as providing a library of regulatory documents.
Users go through the system section by section and the embedded algorithms create a score for each area assessed and which is compared against a benchmark created by Engage Insight. By improving your score you improve your regulatory processes within the advice firm.
An overall report not only assesses the overall level of regulatory compliance within the firm but also provides a one-year target for improvement. In addition the system can be used to meet CPD objectives.
This is certainly a ground breaking solution providing automation to help an area that has historically been very much a manual process.
Financial advisers have never had more choice when it comes to selecting the software to help them improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and enhance customer services.
In February our Adviser Software Insights study explored a couple of new entrants in the market, provided an update to the Quality Analyser product research software F&TRC offer free to adviser members of the Personal Finance Society and also looked at an established player in the Wealth Management sector.
Hourglass Software is one of an increasing number of "Built by IFAs for IFAs" packages in the market. This one is the brainchild of Ken Hayden who has run his own IFA business, Financial Management Services Ltd since 1993. It is a client/server based system so the software sits on the client IFA firm’s own computers, this is rare these days although there are some firms who prefer this option.
The company say they aim to enable users to access any item of data within two mouse clicks. Hourglass is certainly economically priced with a current offer of a lifetime fixed monthly subscription of £120 per month per firm for up to 5 users.
If adviser firms don't want to buy any of the recognised off-the-shelf products, it makes sense for small groups of firms to work together to deliver a solution: that said you need to find a firm where there is a shared vision between the adviser firm leading the development and their customers. If you don't achieve this it could be just like buying from any other software company.
Perhaps the best example of this working is the Creative Technologies solution originally built by Ian Cooke for his Best Practice Chartered Financial Planning network. This has been very successfully embraced by many other Chartered practices. It is now part of the Benchmark Capital business into which Schroders recently invested £86 million for a 65% stake.
Hourglass appears to provide a good range of functionality, including diary and task management, workflows, accounting, and GABRIEL reporting although it does not include a Client Portal. We understand from Ken Hayden that this is deliberate as he is not convinced by the benefits of providing clients with such services. Our house view is very much the opposite, however we recognise that there are many advisers that will agree with Ken on this.
Historically it would have been a challenge for systems with only a small number of users to achieve the level of integration with insurers and platforms for valuations and other online messages. The emergence of Origo's Integration Hub however should make this far less of an issue.
Advisers looking for an economy solution may want to spend some time talking to Ken Hayden.
Castlight Financial are doing some fascinating work to help accelerate getting mortgage acceptances by giving the ability to check both client’s budget and credit records by having to enter only a very small amount of manual data. Their system links with both Equifax for details of credit history and Yodlee to pull through bank balances and transaction history.
Their efforts are being championed by Paradigm who recognise the huge benefits it could bring. If they can get traction with lenders this could transform the consumer experience working with mortgage advisers. Pro and Lite versions offer differing levels of information to help the adviser and client. This is the system everyone in the mortgage industry should understand more about.
Quality Analyser which is F&TRC’s own product research comparison system is available free to the 25,000 adviser members of the Personal Finance Society. It enables extensive comparisons of the qualitative features of products.
The protection module includes Mortgage Protection, Level Term Family Income Benefit, Income Protection and Critical/Serious Illness contracts. A wide range of business protection contracts are also included, e.g. Relevant Life, Shareholder Protection and Key Person.
The Workplace pensions module allows firms to compare group personal pension and master trust products including filters to identify which pension providers will take schemes of different sizes and other attributes. Approximately 4,000 advisers are registered to use the system of whom 1,000 focus on the Workplace comparisons with the reminder using the service for Protection research.
Comarch is an omni-channel modular investment system targeted at private banking and wealth management firms. It's four modules cover:
Adviser front office
Client reporting performance and risk analytics
A Multi Channel client front end
The company stress their focus is on the relationship between advisers and their clients however investments are managed.
Notably they claim they can deliver a fully automated Robo advisory capability using either chat bot or personal advisers with a strong focus on a consistent user experience. We have not had chance to explore whether they meet the exacting UK assessing suitability standards.
The company have been particularly active in developing virtual and augmented reality applications to help clients focus on their wealth management needs when it is convenient to them, for example their Myra voice controlled virtual assistant designed to enable customers to keep track of their wealth management issues during the 600 hours a year the typical person spends driving. This is all achieved in an entirely hands-free way. This video http://finovate.com/videos/finovateeurope-2017-comarch/ from Finovate Europe is a great demonstration of what can be achieved.
While the demo might include rather too many touches of the screen to meet with the latest UK driving laws it is a great example of how voice based artificial intelligence can deliver subject specific consent in a timely manner. An interesting view of what the future of wealth management advice might look like.
The system that most caught our eye in January was the new now: advise offering from Focus Solutions.
Although it has been a long time coming, from what we've seen this has certainly been worth the wait. An "Out of the Box" client management solution for firms with 10 users upwards it also includes a stunning set of financial planning tools "now: plan" and a good screen share product "now: share".
Great integration between the various modules allowing full re-use of data across all elements; this should be a minimum requirement for any system these days but it is always great to see it done well.
The now: range is designed to sit in front of the Focus 360 solution for larger firms.
now: plan is one of the best goal-based financial planning tools we have seen in a long while. This incorporates an outstanding tablet enabled, touch-based financial planning model that should be really easy to use interactively with clients. Look out for some more detailed analysis on this service from F&TRC on this component soon.
Although owned by Standard Life the company has been given the freedom to operate independently and there is no interference from the parent life company.
This approach should be applauded and it deserves to be recognised. Sometimes I hear people discounting Focus because of their ownership. Although it can't be entirely ignored I think it's important to recognise the substantial autonomy that the Leamington Spa based team has.
Overall the now: products are a huge step forward for Focus.
In updating our detailed Adviser Software Insights summary of the entire adviser software market we frequently revisit existing products to look at how they now compare and particularly consider additional ways in which they might be used.
In January we took another look at Synaptic's range of products including the Client Care back office system, the Modeller risk profiling tools, the Comparator product research system with their Product and Fund offering and the Webline portal.
While the Client Care back office really hasn't been a priority development for Synaptic in recent years the rest of the offerings are compelling. What really strikes me about their proposition is that if you put all the parts together you have got the vast majority of what you would need to build a really sophisticated automated advice system.
This wouldn't just be something that could be deployed in a direct to consumer environment but also the services could be very powerful in automating elements of an advice process to put together the optimal mix of human and digital resources. Such an approach has huge potential for taking operating costs out of an advice firm.
We also looked at O&M's Profiler ESP product during January. This has really come along way since its origins in the pension transfer comparison market. Today the service provides comprehensive analysis of not just pension switching and with profits but also income drawdown. This now also includes bonds, ISA and GIA accounts and annuities.
All life offices, platforms and asset managers need to have a good understanding of how systems like the various Synaptic Components and O&M's Profiler ESP work as they can have a dramatic impact on whose products and funds get recommended.
Over the last year or so Iress have made some very significant acquisitions to complement their proposition in the wealth management market. These include Proquote Global and Proquote Trading Platform most of which are integrated into the Iress Xplan system to provide full back office functionality.
In addition Iress Viewpoint is an HTML5 based web application which enables wealth management firms to provide detailed market analysis and trading capabilities to their clients.
Detailed permission and capabilities enable firms to set up different levels of access for different clients and, subject to these permissions, firms can provide clients' the same level of information as is available via Proquote.
Overall this is an impressive set of Iress capabilities in this important area. As technology becomes an ever more important component of wealth management propositions the company are positioning themselves well to help these firms improve their business efficiency and customer offerings.
You can find far more information about each of the products mentioned above in our Adviser Software Insights study (http://www.adviserforum.com/asi-report/). In addition you can discuss your experiences about these and other adviser software products on our AdviserForum.com discussions Forum.
Platform Due Diligence is a hugely important task. It is also one which is consuming vast amounts of resource for advisers and platforms alike.
Although the FCA has deferred the completion of its Thematic Review, it has been sending clear messages around certain aspects of the due diligence process. Not least that advisers basing their analysis on the documents produced by platforms is not sufficient to fulfil their due diligence obligations.
A good due diligence process is about far more than just collecting data. It provides a valuable opportunity for advisers to review their business strategy overall. Ideally this will include how they deliver services to customers, the technology they need to provide such services, their investment strategy and a wide range of other issues.
An increasing number of firms engage in regular due diligence exercises, identifying all the information they think they might need and requesting a huge amount of data from potential platform partners. We hear time and again that platforms are inundated with requests for the same information from multiple sources. The completion of these multiple, but similar, data requests is repetitive, time consuming and enormously costly.
There must be a better way. There is a better way!
To help meet this need and reduce costs significantly for advisers and platforms alike, Finance & Technology Research Centre has launched a new centralised library of due diligence data. This is a service which is free of charge to advisers and can be accessed at www.advisersoftware.com.
By creating a structured central question set, platforms can focus on getting the central data 100% right rather than responding to the same enquiries again and again. Equally, advisers will have access to high quality information structured consistently, by an independent third party, for ease of comparison.
The new service aims to help advisers manage their due diligence responsibilities and streamline processes while staying in line with FCA expectations. It provides a central, independent resource from which advisers can source due diligence information – for free – in an easy to analyse online format.
Advisers can already use the service to access information from platforms regarding:
Financial Planning Tools
Adviser Software system integration (including the depth of integration)
Aegon Retirement Choices (ARC), AJ Bell, AVIVA Wrap, James Hay, Novia, Praemium, Standard Life Wrap, True Potential and Zurich Wrap are already represented in the service with a further four platforms in the process of adding their information.
Over the next six months new sections will be added on a regular basis to create one of the most comprehensive UK platform live databases, covering:
Terms & Conditions
Governance & Ownership
MI & General Reporting
Assets Under Management
Advisers can filter the data to produce detailed analysis of the key issues they wish to compare and generate written summaries and templates so they can easily review this data on a regular basis.
Alongside the comparative data, the new service will also provide a library of educational content to help advisers understand some of the softer issues around due diligence and how they can be explained.
One of the big challenges is finding the balance between collecting the right amount of due diligence information and turning that into something succinct, meaningful and worthy of FCA scrutiny if ever required. Every adviser firm will have unique platform ‘must-haves’. This free service enables advisers to get the information they need, when they need it and also enable platforms to provide this data to a central source where it can be accessed by the nearly 2,500 adviser who are already registered to use AdviserSoftware.com.
There is no charge to platforms or life offices for including their information. F&TRC is running a series of webinars where advisers can find out more about how to use the service. You can register for a session viahttps://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/4372864764949881346
The initial webinar will take place on Thursday 3rd September at 10am and will be repeated on 1st October, 15th October and 29th October (the latter sessions will include demonstrations of sections added to the due diligence library over the coming weeks).