Friends Provident is today launching a new online business tracking facility for IFAs that it says m...
Friends Provident is today launching a new online business tracking facility for IFAs that it says marks the first step towards a "comprehensive" online service that should make e-commerce reality for an increasing number of advisers.
The facility will enable IFAs to track the processing of life and pensions applications regardless of whether they were lodged electronically or on paper.
This includes being able to follow a trail of "chased" and "received" requests for additional data, for example to fully complete a medical history form.
IFAs can go into the site, which is protected by security, to add or change data already attached to particular clients.
The tracking facility has been tested on FP staff in Manchester and will now be rolled out within the rest of the company and to IFAs through a direct marketing campaign - 22,000 leaflets are being distributed to advisers.
A facility to track commission is also included, although this will only be fully functional at a later date.
Steve Young, FP e-commerce manager, says that FP is committed to building on its internet services because e-commerce has already gone beyond expectations over the past year.
"For example, the share of our bonds business accounted for by the internet has grown from 10% to about 60%, albeit with a particular promotion in place. But the trend is clear; e-commerce has come of age and we think we are well positioned to take advantage of that.
FP has set the first quarter of next year as the deadline for implementing new facilities such as commission enquiries, pensions projections, digital certification (unipass) and Origo-linked changes.
The long term goal is for FP to develop a way to link directly into IFA systems to provide real-time interaction on issues such as commission, contracts and new business to further facilitate through processing.
And within three years time, Young says, IFAs may be using tablet PCs in place of laptops and using wireless connections to process data from the coal face straight through to FP's back-office systems for total real-time processing of data captured in the field.
Until then FP will focus on adding to today's tracking facility, to increase functionality in ways it hopes IFAs will find practical.
Greater online sales may be needed if FP is to repair its credit rating that got downgraded by Moody's Investors Service yesterday.
FP has followed the downgrade by announcing the sale of up to £220m worth of bonds to boost reserves for underwriting new business next year.
FP shares are down 8p to 132.25p so far today, and are down from a high of 212p in January.
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