Fidelity has accelerated the digitisation of its FundsNetwork platform in a bid to help advisers overcome the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis.
FundsNetwork announced today (April 30) it has launched an online document upload functionality — ‘Upload and Send’ — which allows advisers to upload specific documents directly to the platform’s relevant team.
It is hoped the service will reduce the time taken to post documents and reduce advisers’ and Fidelity’s reliance on paper.
Danny Wynn, head of proposition for growth and strategy at FundsNetwork, said: “The launch of ‘Upload and Send’ has always formed part of a wider plan to expand upon the range of digital experiences we’re able to offer advisers.
“However, with the spread of Covid-19 leading us all to adapt to a new way of working, almost overnight, we accelerated its development to provide support at a time most needed.”
Mr Wynn said the new addition, combined with its recent move to accept digital signatures, meant 99 per cent of all transactions did now not require paper or wet signatures.
He added: “While the future still presents many uncertainties, it is more important than ever that we work together to ensure we’re providing practical and relevant solutions that allow them to support their own clients as best possible.”
At the moment the feature supports uploading of the 18 most common document types advisers need to submit, but FundsNetwork plans to expand this to all documents over the coming weeks.
Alistair Fullerton, director at Lathe and Co Wealth Advisers, said FundsNetwork’s response to Covid-19 had been “great”.
He said: “I’ve used the online scanning system and it seems fully secure. It requires the adviser to phone, request a secure email be sent, then only communicates the documents via a secure channel.
“This is in contrast to a couple of other platforms we use which haven’t coped at all, in fact they shut down phone lines for a few weeks which meant we were unable to even speak to them. The lack of organisation has cost them.”
Platforms grappling with issues caused by the coronavirus crisis have made headlines over the past few weeks as they started to rip up their rulebooks in a bid to meet advisers’ remote-working requirements, but poor or patchy service became a growing source of frustration for many of their users.
Felix Milton, chartered financial planner at Philip J Milton and Company, said: “This is a great idea and other providers that don’t offer this should really consider offering the facility.
“It’s a shame it’s taken coronavirus to make this into the mainstream but hopefully further operational efficiencies will come of it.”
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