Advisers relying on tech to help see them through GDPR


Technology has become fundamental to financial advisers' current and future success, especially where regulation is concerned, the head of a platform provider has stated.

Eoin Lyons, chief executive of platform provider Opal, said a more efficient and streamlined use of technology could help financial advisers better cope with regulation such as the general data protection regulation (GDPR).

"Clearly having digital records rather than paper records gives you an opportunity to fulfill your obligations under GDPR", he said.

"Some of the things people are concerned about include the fact consumers have the right to be forgotten, which means 'please remove my data', and we expect more data requests from consumers as there is more awareness that companies hold their data."

Likewise, after GDPR comes in on 25 May, businesses will now only be allowed to hold data that is relevant to the product or service they are providing.

Mr Lyons said: "It is stating the obvious to say that if the data is held electronically, it allows companies providers and advisers to fulfill requests easily, to remove or to depersonalise data.

"If you have going through boxes of paper this is going to be time-consuming and expensive, and there is the risk that you might not do it properly, so having digital records makes it more efficient to fulfill the requirements."

Speaking to Money Management's Craig Rickman, Mr Lyons also described the way in which advisers adopt technology in terms of providing financial advisers with "two buckets".

He explained: "Efficiency and effectiveness - these are the two buckets that an adviser can put their business into. 

"Most people realise automating is more efficient, so if you can perform tasks faster than you can over paper, then it goes without saying that you will make fewer errors and have better records as a results."

It is not just about reducing costs, however, he said, but creating more value.

"Having a digital journey for advisers and customers means you can engage with the customer and be able to focus more on identifying their need and meeting it, rather than going through a lengthy paper-based fact-finding process."

Giving as an example of customer service the behemoth that is Amazon, Mr Lyons explained that Amazon did not make the cars go faster or the planes that can fly parcels overseas faster, but allowed consumers to see when their parcels might be delivered, and to track this, giving the consumer a greater sense of control.

Likewise, he said advisers should consider focusing not on recommending new products but working on the delivery of the advice and service they offer.

"It is all about managing expectations", he said, adding that consumers are more likely to be satisfied with a better delivery mechanism, giving them peace of mind and managing expectations, rather than just inventing another product.