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Providers must continue digital evolution to cater for intermediaries

Providers must continue digital evolution to cater for intermediaries

Providers that continue to innovate without being prompted by external factors will have the ability to attract more advisers over the coming year, Curtis Banks has said.

But firms which fail to adapt and improve their technical capabilities will end up being left behind, Jessica List, pension technical manager at Curtis Banks, warned.

Ms List said: “[This year] has highlighted the importance of technology, with firms needing to be able to provide online solutions and processes so that advisers and clients could continue to use their services from home. 

“The pensions industry has always had a bit of a reputation for being slow to embrace new technology; this year has shown that it is possible to innovate quickly when required, and those firms that can’t adapt going forward will undoubtedly be left behind.”

She went on to say that increasingly advisers will turn to providers that look to innovate on their own merits in order to improve their services.

According to Ms List, advisers will “focus more of their due diligence on the financial strength of their prospective providers”.

They will also “look for evidence that the firm will be able to adapt quickly when needed”. 

Ms List added: “Advisers are also likely to check that their providers don’t just change when forced by factors beyond their control, but that they are constantly evolving and improving their products and services.”

Research from iPensions Group, published earlier this year (October 13), saw advisers call on Sipp providers to enhance their technology in order to speed up applications and make it easier to receive real time information.

It found that technology had become so ingrained in an adviser's day to day life that more than half focused on tech capacity when choosing which Sipp provider they would use for their clients.

At the time, Ricky Chan, director and chartered financial planner at IFS Wealth and Pensions, said he wanted to see more providers integrate their systems with advisers’ back office systems saying they were often not compatible.

Mr Chan said: “Getting information and evaluations from providers which fit advisers’ back office systems is often a bugbear.

“Platforms are often not able to provide real time information which fits with the back office system an adviser is using therefore advisers need to then use the provider's own portals which can be a bit of a pain.”

Ms List said adapting to adviser’s technology needs will be important in the coming years as clients’ retirement plans change.

She said: “The pension freedoms rules will be put to the test over the coming years as people think of creative approaches to their new circumstances. 

“At the same time, individuals are still likely to want to transfer their pensions as infrequently as possible even as their situations change. 

“Therefore more than ever, pension providers will need to be able to cater for a wide spectrum of different retirement goals and journeys in order to remain competitive.”