Stephen Wynne-Jones, Assureweb's director of product marketing, explains that integration is the key to a more streamlined future for the advice industry.
Integrating portals and providers
When it comes to portals and provider extranets, it’s no secret that there’s fragmentation in the financial advice industry. There are many good sites that add value to intermediaries, but the fact that they’renot linked together means the industry is missing a trick.
Some of our recent customer research has indeed suggested that technology providers are failing intermediaries by not giving them a ‘joined up’ experience. This results in a loss of time as they jump in and out of different provider extranet sites and re-key data multiple times, rather than experiencing a true aggregated process.
Intermediaries do view quote gathering and applying for new business as independent elements of the same process, and suggested that “portals are for quotes and extranets for new business – and never the twain shall meet!”
We at Assureweb believe it’s time the industry worked together to ensure greater co-operation between portal and provider extranets. Without it, advisers are quite simply missing out on the time saving benefits of being able to transfer client and product data to an extranet to complete an application.
While many product and technology providers have been slow on the take-up of end-to-end technology, the need for integration is increasingly something that providers and portals will have to accept. The good news is that change is starting to take place and Assureweb is setting the benchmark.
Assureweb is attempting to tackle this problem head-on and has added five new links direct from its quotation services to the heart of provider’s extranets – a move that will result in the most compelling quote-to-new business process in the market. The new links are to:
• Scottish Equitable
• Standard Life
• Liverpool Victoria
• Scottish Provident
These are in addition to the existing links to Norwich Union, Scottish Widows, Friends Provident and Legal & General.
An investment in time
Some advisers have already noticed the time-savings that portals can bring to their new business processes. When linking to a provider extranet from Assureweb, clients' personal and product related data can be carried over and reused on the provider site. This obviously removes the need to re-key, reducing the potential for errors and therefore speeding up the whole process.
The result is one gateway to the best in breed of provider extranets rather than having to access each one separately.
For a number of advisers, submitting business electronically takes more effort up-front and can sometimes be a turn-off with many struggling to see beyond the initial extra effort to get their client forms submitted. But despite what some may perceive to be the added hassle of entering the information on screen, the major benefit is that data is checked as it is entered which further eliminates errors. So an adviser can completely remove any delays caused by:
• incomplete forms
• mistakes in tick boxes
• poor handwriting
But perhaps the most invaluable feature of Assureweb’s complete quote-to-new business process is that it usually leads to a decision in real time on the provider extranet. This eliminates the wait for the application to be delivered, the providers’ administration processes to complete, or an underwriter to consider the risk and then approve the terms. This means the focus can be shifted to generating further business - no doubt an adviser’s number one priority.
As well as the five new provider links, Assureweb is working on further links that will be developed over the coming months. So, of the providers that support Assureweb’s term assurance quotation service, all but two will have this exciting joined-up e-capability.
Stephen Wynne-Jones is director of product marketing at Assureweb
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