It’s becoming much easier for advisers to use technology to create better client outcomes by accelerating transactions, automating administrative tasks and delivering operational efficiency.
Technology has become even more important in the financial advice space since the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review in 2012, with much investments, reporting and client contact now automated.
Recent data published by financial research firm Defaqto* showed that advisers' use of platforms has continued to rise with 18% of advisers placing all of their business on platforms in 2018 compared to 11% who did so in 2016. Whilst Vitality and a number of other product providers are not platforms per se, many of the findings in the Defaqto report apply equally to these providers.
The Defaqto data highlighted that ease of new business administration is the service most valued by advisers using a platform, followed by the ease of existing business administration – two factors that point strongly towards the case for an enabling technology solution.
This demand from advisers has driven technological innovation in the market, like VitalityInvest’s digital platform, the Adviser Hub. It was created following significant investment in research and development to ensure advisers spend less time on client administration and more time looking after their clients’ needs. It allows advisers to onboard and service their customers, with access to illustrations, applications, transfers, client management and document storage via a simple, secure online interface.
As a recent entrant into the retail investment market, VitalityInvest had the luxury of designing their technology solution without the constraints of legacy systems, using best-in-breed features throughout. The system is fast, secure, and works seamlessly with all devices – desktops, smartphones or tablets.
Richard Bethell, adviser at Prosper Financial Solutions, said: “As a recently qualified adviser the prospect of using new systems and software seemed quite daunting! However, after a quick run through of the VitalityInvest platform with my Business Consultant I found the system extremely user-friendly and well set up. Getting quotes and projections are straightforward and submitting cases pretty simple.”
Shifting customer expectations
Customer expectations are changing too and technology in the investment adviser space is being driven by other financial services sectors, most notably banking.
The rapid growth of online and mobile banking may force other financial sectors to enhance their services to provide the round-the-clock access that clients increasingly expect.
Open banking, which launched in January 2018, is also increasingly playing a role in driving technology innovation across financial services. Customers and small and medium-sized businesses can share their current account information securely with other third-party providers, allowing advisers to have access to much richer data on their clients.
Data is becoming more and more important and there are a number of calculators and tools that advisers can use to get meaningful insight about their clients in order to provide the best advice. VitalityInvest’s LiveWell Financial Planner combines cashflow modelling with life expectancy insights so advisers can show clients how lifestyle affects life expectancy, how simple changes could extend their lives and what that might mean for their finances. It utilises Vitality’s proprietary research on life expectancy, which was developed in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe.
VitalityInvest will also be releasing interactive statements for clients, which will provide individualised, live portfolio valuations and up-to-date performance metrics.
Regulatory burden increase
Last year saw the introduction of both the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), EU-wide data privacy legislation, and MiFID II, which requires advisers to disclose the exact costs and charges of their investments, as opposed to giving estimates to clients.
Both regulatory requirements make the use of paper systems redundant and increase the importance of technology in enabling advisers to record the advice process in an auditable and compliance-friendly way. Having the right technology in place improves adviser efficiency and helps protect the client.
The human touch
Technological innovation is continuing its advance so it’s crucial for the retail investment profession to keep up to date, especially if they want to engage with younger people who will become the next generation of investors. However, this doesn’t mean technology should replace personal contact, which brings the element of empathy and personal attention, and is generally preferred by clients. Technology should be viewed as an enabler not a substitute and, by allowing greater automation of services, more time can be freed up to spend face-to-face with clients.
Technology can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to carry out a wide range of tedious administrative tasks. This means advisers can concentrate on the real value they provide such as customer service, financial planning and building clients’ trust. VitalityInvest has come to the UK investment market with a proven investment proposition but a fresh approach. We believe this provides a great platform for advisers to manage and retain clients easily with a unique range of tools and calculators that takes a lot of the complexity out of the process.
Providing advice is still about people but staying in touch with changing trends and developing a solid technology strategy will result in a more efficient business and happier clients.
To set up a demo of VitalityInvest’s Adviser Hub get in touch with your Business Consultant or 0333 996 0400.
*Defaqto platform service review 2019: https://www.defaqto.com/advisers/publications/platform-service-review-2019/
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