The government-imposed lockdown in the UK has forced the adviser community to leave behind the office environment and work from home.
It has brought into sharp focus the need to be able to access client documents remotely.
So if client files are sitting in filing cabinets and are not accessible elsewhere, advisers and brokers may have found themselves somewhat constrained by the current situation.
Fortunately, there has been a move to migrating client files and data online, partly in response to regulation, and many adviser companies will have already done so.
Conor Murphy, chief executive of Smartr365, says: “I think over the past couple of years, most firms have started to make some steps in that direction. So I don’t believe there are that many firms where everything is stored physically these days.”
But he adds that if you did not have those processes in place already, lockdown would be very challenging.
Mr Murphy explains: “Traditionally, what’s happened is lots of mortgage brokers have used an analogue process where there’s been lots of paper and hard files in filing cabinets. The problem with that is, how do you get the papers to the person, given the current environment?
“Also, how do you get access to that ongoing, for both parties?”
Range of tools
Increased demand for client data storage solutions means there are a range of tools for advisers to choose from should they be weighing up their options now.
Andrew Beckett, managing director and EMEA cyber risk practice lead at Kroll, a division of Duff and Phelps, observes: “There are a lot of fairly well-established online service providers for this, so no company should be short of choice when it comes to finding a vendor.”
For, Smartr365,an end-to-end software platform specifically for mortgage advisers, cloud-based technology has proved beneficial here.
“What that means is that clients are able to upload the documentation themselves directly into the application,” explains Mr Murphy.
“Once they have uploaded the documentation it’s stored on the cloud and then it’s available to both parties – the adviser and the client – from anywhere in the world.”
Nick Eatock is chief executive of Intelliflo, which provides business management software, called Intelligent Office, to UK financial advisers.
He says that its Personal Finance Portal provides a tool on which to view financial information and interact via a secure online “hub” anywhere and on any device.
“Having a secure online storage for all-important documents and a secure means of communicating with clients not only helps advisers adhere to GDPR rules but also reduces the cost of client servicing by saving processing time, postage and printing costs,” he explains.