Innovating in uncertain times

“I’ve seen some advisers doing some great things on LinkedIn to really demonstrate the value of financial planning. Be proud – financial planners are doing great things.”

The current pandemic has propelled the nation into adopting more digital solutions to enable staff to work from home and to engage with clients successfully.

Although some IFAs faced teething problems getting to grips with the new way of working at the start of the pandemic, now advisers are taking a lead in improving their digital services.

This was noted by Daniel Marsh, head of ecosystem at Seccl, who highlighted the importance of integrating old and new technology to create a seamless back office experience and to use standard technology to save time and money.He argued this will enableIFAs to develop a more personalised business.

He said: “The conversations we’ve had as a business with advisers have been that technology and integration has been on the agenda for quite some time – probably the past three or four years.

“But while it’s always been on the agenda, it’s not been particularly at the top of the agenda. After the pandemic, we haven’t had any conversations where technology isn’t the top priority.

“Ultimately, the way we see technology is enabling advice firms to work in a way that they want to work and provide the service they want to provide to clients and to do that, theoretically, entirely digitally – if they wish.

“Of course you might still want do various parts of that face-to-face and I am sure that the future won’t be fully digital in terms of client meetings. But the ability to work that way is certainly a future I think will be worth embracing.

“If you go back three to five years ago, advisers saw themselves as passive consumers of technology – someone built a system and an adviser firm integrated that system into their way of working. But now we have seen advisers taking more control of the process.”

Mr Marsh argued this is particularly important because a large number of providers are still falling behind on the digital revolution as many still require a wet signature on contracts.

Worryingly, he highlighted research by NextWealth, which was published after the first lockdown in April and found that 42 per cent of processes across all platforms require a scanned original to be sent to the platform.

Commenting on this, he said: “In a previous life I used to work in the advice business and one of the biggest frustrations for me was we were perfectly happy to use digital signatures for a large number of outcomes in our business, but the providers that were using the platforms we use at the back end wouldn’t accept it.