As anyone who knows me will attest, the author of this column is exactly representative of the male gender in his ability to multitask. And yet that’s what I’m going to try to do now.
As I write, Mark Zuckerberg is in his second shift testifying before US Congress on data leaks from Facebook. As he talks – when able to get a word in among grandstanding senators – it’s clear that a huge number of people have lost and are losing trust in the technology that underpins so much of our lives.
Losing trust and taking action are different, and people do love to share photos of their dinner, so maybe nothing much will change. But it is absolutely the case that the system – the unthinking things that millions of people use every day – is taking a knock.
I’m watching this piece of political theatre while writing my column, and it strikes me that exactly the same sort of thing is happening in our sector.
Now I don’t think that product providers or platforms are selling your clients’ personal information to Russian fake news sites (though it would be much cooler than what they do use it for, which is nothing in most cases). But I do think there is an interesting comparison to draw between the experience people are having with Facebook, and the relationship advisers have with the platforms they use.
The most obvious case in point is Aviva’s replatforming from its Bravura system to its new FNZ facility. I think it’s well known that this hasn’t gone as smoothly as anyone would have liked, and there are plenty of ‘Mr Angries’ out there who have been very happy to share their displeasure with this. I’m not going to pile on as it’s all been said already.
Just one aside: a fair number of advisers have contacted us at the Lang Cat to have a moan that the old system worked fine and that they didn’t see the need to upgrade at all.
One of the things that’s been lost along the way is that Aviva’s existing platform wasn’t Mifid II-compliant and needed major surgery in order to make it so. It chose not to do that work – quite understandably – given that it was going to be rocking and rolling on FNZ by the time Mifid II came around.
But then came the delays, and deadlines ended up being crashed. Things weren’t ready, or at least as ready as they were meant to be. Testing was rushed, and we know the results.
So there’s a lesson in there somewhere. But back to the point. I am interested in how adviser firms are impacted by big changes to the basic kit that they use every day. Everyone is, I think, used to software changing on a regular basis: we all update our phones and tablets with the latest version of iOS or Android regularly.