I have been enduring a week of erratic technology behaviour. My mobile phone has not been synchronising with Outlook, then there was no remote email access in addition to Bluetooth not working in the car. It's all too much.
Fortunately, my colleague Pete is responsible for all things IT. I am not a complete technophobe but have become the equivalent of an IT couch potato. I talk a good game but am happy to sit back and let others do the hard work.
During recent consideration of the best back office system to upgrade to, we have been tempted with the utopia in office management – the paperless office! Not so long ago this concept, whilst undeniably alluring, would have been a pipe dream at best. However, following a demonstration at the offices of a local IFA firm, we are now convinced that this is not as scary as it sounds.
With increasing regulatory and operational costs, improving the efficiency of our processes and operational systems is a real priority, particularly as I am convinced that commission rates will ultimately fall. We therefore want to get ahead of the game now.
In doing so, we are going to be continuingly questioning the systems of life offices. Some genuinely seem to be structured to facilitate mutual convenience for both the provider and the IFA whilst others appear to be weighted in favour of the life office, with little consideration for IFA usability.
The best example of this is the online protection application process. The biggest presumptions that providers seem to have made are firstly that an extra 10% commission “incentive” will cover the additional cost of submitting online as opposed to photocopying and posting. Do me a favour.
The second is that the client is present during the application submission process. Wrong. For large, telephone-based firms this is certainly the case. For your average IFA I suspect that this is not.
In my case, I am rarely even present when the application or data capture form is filled in. In an attempt to remove the adviser from any potential non-disclosure, we prefer to give the client the blank application form to take home, complete at their leisure, and return. Thus, we can never be accused of being told some potentially relevant health information and then not including it on the application.
A large proportion of the IFA community are resistant to many IT developments and processes and so whilst this group remain the majority it would appear that providers have more work to do.
Peter Chadborn is principal of IFA firm CBK.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
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