With the Retail Distribution Review on the horizon, portal Avelo is gearing up for an aggressive growth phase, writes AT8 Group's Mark Loosmore...
Financial services technology can sometimes go through patches of stagnation where no innovation occurs and little changes, especially during a financial downturn. But nothing is further from the truth right now.
With RDR approaching at frightening speed, along with other change initiatives such as the European Directive on Gender Equality, we are seeing an unprecedented amount of pressure for enormous change in many areas of our industry which needs to be underpinned by technology changes.
At a recent visit to Avelo, we discussed the planned strategy for Avelo Exchange Portal, and discovered the company has a very aggressive product release strategy over the next 18 months which should see the portal positioned specifically to be ready for the post-RDR world.
Avelo’s core strategy has been to broaden the depth and reach of its services, embedding its offerings more deeply into the processes of the distributor. Where Avelo’s Portal used to be identified with electronic quotations, it now aims to offer a more holistic suite of services including electronic applications, new business tracking, valuations, fees and commission reconciliation and policy servicing.
While the long-term vision is important, there are several enhancements to the existing services that bring home the level of change Avelo’s Portal will undergo in the next 18 months.
Annuity service enhancements
The annuity service is undergoing significant investment. In June 2012, Avelo is embedding an electronic Common Quotation Form (eCQF) that will bring the underwriting rules to the point-of-business, enabling underwritten quotes to be produced on the portal. The business benefits of doing this are clear as the IFA and client know the real price of the proposal at point-of-quote and no longer have to wait to see the effect of underwriting to know the true price.
However, many IFAs may also be uncomfortable collecting some of the underwriting information so Avelo is introducing the ability to get the client to remotely complete the eCQF. A message can be sent to the client asking them to log on to a secure portal. On this portal will be education material to explain the benefits of annuities and also the eCQF.
The annuitant can complete the form remotely (there is a save functionality so this can happen over several sessions) and then, when complete, the adviser is sent a message. The adviser then checks the details and runs the illustrations. All the activity is done within an online portal that can be specifically branded for each individual IFA firm.
By the end of 2012, electronic new business capability will also be available. In essence, this should be straightforward as the quote is already underwritten, so Avelo will only need to collect bank and doctor details before sending the information through to the product providers. In 2013, this process, including new business submission, will be made available for clients in a self-service mode, although always through the introduction of an adviser and within the adviser-branded portal.
Partner Insight: For Blackfinch, the arrival of its IHT portfolio services was a 'natural evolution' in the group's offering and points to an established track record of returning cash to investors.
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