An industry-wide e-business forum is being launched today to stimulate discussion about technology development and improve the profitability of all financial services firms.
Led by 1st Software, the think-tank is designed to harness the opinions and ideas of various interest groups – including the Financial Services Authority – and create constructive technology solutions to business efficiency which “work on the ground”.
The group’s first research project – called ‘The Adviser E-Enquiry’ – will work with Prudential, Scottish Widows, Standard Life, Webline and IBM to find out more about the attitudes and emotions of financial advisers using technology and e-commerce, and how its usage alters in the workplace, says Rory Curran, executive chairman of 1st.
“Rather than creating another pressure group, the purpose of The Adviser E-Enquiry initiative is to bring the industry’s various ‘interest groups’ together - advisers, providers, Adviser Forum, Origo, the media and the FSA.
“Our ultimate goal is to make e-business a part of an adviser’s every day working practice, while simultaneously increasing efficiency and profitability for providers, platforms, portals and adviser firms. The focus is on making e-business work ‘on the ground’, covering the wider adviser population - not just larger distributors and multi-tied groups,” adds Curran.
Some of the areas which need specific industry attention and where the group might be able to make some efficiencies include contract enquiries and wrap platforms, according to Shaun Crawford, partner at IBM’s insurance services division.
“One major area that we are seeing very sporadic activity in, across the provider e-environment, is in the development of full contract enquiry capabilities,” he says.
“There is an urgent requirement for life companies to ensure they can retrieve data from legacy systems. This is really essential for ensuring full wrap capabilities can be delivered and also ensuring full end to end processing can be completed across a wider product range.
“Contract enquiry is a very unsexy area of e-commerce but is an absolute hygiene factor for enabling the type of e-services that professional advisers are now demanding. Surely those providers who do not take this seriously cannot expect to be winners going forward - multi tie deal or no multi tie deal,” suggests Crawford.
The six companies supporting the Adviser E-Enquiry study will invite 400 intermediary firms to present their thoughts in the confidential study, and these will then be analysed by an independent research group.
Full results of the research along with analysis and presentations from the supporting organisations will be made at the 1st annual conference, held in Birmingham, on 28th June.
The full results of The Adviser E-Enquiry, analysis and presentations from the supporting organisations will be made at the 1st annual conference, held in Birmingham on 28th June.
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