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Home > Your Industry > Technology for Advisers

By Chris Dell | Published Sep 22, 2011

Message in the bottle

Chances are you have seen it a hundred times stuck at the bottom of ads, but thought it irrelevant. In fact, this little device could change your business.

QR codes, or quick response codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that are activated on camera-enabled smartphones. Scanning one can take you instantly to a whole range of online possibilities.

Want to try it? All you need is a smartphone – an iPhone, Blackberry, Android or other device on which you can load apps. Research conducted recently stated that over 63 per cent of IFAs now have one. So if you are in the minority that does not, borrow one for the rest of this article. Bear in mind, the majority of your clients have smartphones too and the numbers are increasing every day. The UK’s smartphone adoption rate is the highest in Europe.

The next step is to use the software that enables you to scan QR codes. It may already be on your phone. If it is not, it is really easy to download. All you need to do is go to your app store or app market on your phone and search for “free QR reader”. There are hundreds out there. After you have downloaded, you just scan the code using your phone’s camera. The fuzzy nothingness is transformed into whatever web content the advertiser has decided to link it to.


As an IFA, you can benefit in two main ways. Either by scanning the codes produced by product providers or as an originator of codes for your own business development.

Now that you are aware of QR codes, you will probably realise that many investment, insurance and pension companies have been gradually introducing them on their literature. Have a look.

We asked IFAs what sort of information they would find useful if they were to scan QR codes in product providers’ ads.

Top of the list was “investment industry research” closely followed by “investment industry news and opinion”. In each case, about three in five IFAs thought that a link to this information through a QR code would be useful – and about one in four felt it would be very useful. Next were IFA sales aids and brochures and IFA promotions and incentives – with nearly a half of advisers thinking these would be useful. Lower down the list were fund application forms and key facts documents, and fund manager videos, but even here two in five advisers could see the benefit of being able to access these by scanning a QR code.

Not all product providers have twigged this yet, so you may find a QR code just taking you to the home page of the company’s website, for example. But as advertisers become more sophisticated – which will not take long – some really useful content could be yours or your clients’ at the touch of a screen.

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