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Automation needed to bolster advice, say paraplanners

Automation needed to bolster advice, say paraplanners

Advice firms must look to automate and integrate their back office administration processes to provide a better and more efficient service to clients, according to paraplanners.

Research from Origo, published today (January 13), found out of 200 paraplanners and administrators, 96 per cent agreed that greater integration and automation between systems would enable advisers to provide a better and faster service to their clients.

The vast majority of those surveyed said they were spending too much of their day performing basic admin tasks, such as re-entering details and moving data between systems, due to a disconnect between the systems they used. 

This was a particular problem when putting together clients’ review packs, with more than 40 per cent of paraplanners saying this was the biggest problem area. 

Onboarding new clients came in second, with 30 per cent of seeing this area most in need of systems integration.

Alan Chan, director and chartered financial planner at IFS Wealth & Pensions, agreed that systems integration was integral in order to provide a more efficient service to clients. 

Mr Chan said: “At the moment we probably use between six to eight different softwares to manage the whole advice and client servicing process, from CRM, cashflow modelling, risk profilers, suitability reports and product and fund research tools. 

“This is before we’ve even included platform providers. Often these do not talk to each other so the same data is required to be input again."

He added: “In an ideal world, we would love to have one system to do all of this but there isn’t a perfect solution for all areas and costs are also an important consideration.  

“However, we are starting to see technology providers embrace integration with each other more and more so this is a great step to improving client outcomes by cutting down tedious tasks and input errors.”

Jon Page, director at Neon Financial Planning, agreed some processes could be simplified and would save not only time but also cost.

Mr Page said: "The main tedious task we have to deal with is gaining authority on a client's plan. It’s a process firmly stuck in the 90’s with some firms still insisting that we post them an actual signed piece of paper. 

"This process can literally take weeks, several staff, printing costs, postage costs and has plenty of potential to go wrong, meaning we have to start over. None of that is good for the client.

"A much better system would be to give every person a dashboard with all of their pensions/investments listed and let them grant read-only access to whoever they wanted by sending them a secure link.

"Access could be granted for as long as required, and then revoked if the client changes adviser relationship. It would take seconds for a client to do this, be more cost effective/environmentally friendly and probably be more secure too."