Smaller advice firms are at risk of falling behind as their larger counterparts demonstrate a greater ability to embrace new technology, such as e-signature programs.
Half of firms with assets under administration of £250m or more (54.8 per cent) use e-signatures in their business, according to data from NextWealth, compared with 33.7 per cent of smaller firms.
A survey of 218 UK financial advisers, carried out between February 19 and March 3 this year, found overall adoption among financial advisers of e-signatures has not moved significantly from March 2020, however.
In the past year, usage has actually declined from 43 per cent to 42 per cent of firms in that time.
“While larger financial advice firms have been quick to adopt technology, the biggest hurdle to adoption among smaller firms was piecemeal acceptance of e-signatures,” said Heather Hopkins, managing director of NextWealth.
“We hope to see continued momentum now that acceptance is far more widespread and the changes are seen as a long-term shift rather than emergency workarounds as a result of the pandemic.”
Ms Hopkins said the lack of widescale adoption was “disappointing”.
She said: “The fact that the uptake of e-signatures has stalled in the last six months is disappointing. The risk for advisers who stick with traditional methods is that they are unable to improve efficiency - for their business and their client service, with larger firms better placed to expand through new client acquisition.”
Out of those advisers who are using e-signature programs, DocuSign was the most popular with a 27 per cent majority of advisers’ usage. This was up from 23 per cent in March 2020.
AdobeSign was the next most popular with 15 per cent, and Signable had a 4 per cent share.
Garry Hale, owner and managing director at HK Wealth, said he started using this technology as a result of the pandemic and was satisfied with the benefits it has brought his job.
“I can’t believe [usage is] stalling,” he said. “I started using it due to Covid, it’s definitely good for business and much more efficient and I have no plans to go back.
“I’m currently reviewing even more tech to help with automating other processes. This definitely is the future for planning businesses, get the tech to do the heavy lifting and boring stuff so we can focus on the clients and relationships.”
A separate poll conducted by Intelliflo in March found 48 per cent of advisers had seen an increase in their number of clients as a result of adopting more technology.
For a third (38 per cent), adoption of technology, such as video meeting platforms, allowed them to expand geographically and reach clients who lived further away.
Jon Yarker is a freelance reporter for FTAdviser