Fast forward to a joined up world.
Published: 4th June 2020
COVID-19 has affected all our lives and had an impact on the financial position of many people. Thankfully, most advisers have been able to quickly adapt to working from home to continue providing timely actions, advice and reassurance to clients in unprecedented conditions.
Firms have made full use of existing technology to connect remotely to internal and external systems, divert voice calls straight to laptops and communicate with colleagues and clients via video calls in place of face-to-face meetings. But although firms have been able to switch to home working and continue business largely as usual, many express ongoing frustration with the level of connectivity between the systems they use.
Technology evolution in a pre-COVID world
Even before COVID-19, behaviours were changing. Technology evolution in other industries, like Apple and Google’s operating systems which allows different micro-services to join together to create a system based on your personal needs, was already gradually being adopted by financial services providers. By using simple, open standard technology, advisers can join together all the services and tools they choose to use and access them from anywhere from any device.
The barriers to change
Unfortunately, the emphasis here is on the word ‘gradually’. Although many providers, advisers and technology companies are willing to work together to achieve a better outcome for clients, real change has been disappointingly slow. This is partly because of the difficulty providers have in joining up legacy systems, but also because advisers, paraplanners and administrators have become adept at doing what is necessary to make systems work. There has been no great urgency for providers, beset with enormous regulatory upheaval in recent years, to make the required upgrades.
The need to adapt
The COVID-19 crisis has created greater pressure for providers to address this lack of connectivity and ensure that basic processes are done better. While creating workarounds and dealing with physical paper is achievable when advisers and administrators are in the office, following the same processes from home is much more difficult. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of technology to move from paper to digital and highlighted the need for certain organisations to change their legacy systems and infrastructure so they can operate more easily remotely.
By offering connected systems, advisers can complete more actions themselves through streamlined online processes, creating efficiencies by removing the need to rekey information and reducing delays waiting for paper documents or for the provider to intervene manually. Advisers can provide a better, more efficient service at a lower cost, benefiting advisers, clients and providers alike.
The new normal – a joined up world?
It’s difficult to predict which new ways of working will be temporary and which will become permanent. It’s probably safe to say that most of us will return to the office eventually, but I think we’ll see greater flexibility in how and where advisers work going forward. Online video conferencing technology looks set to stay for at least some meetings. With all of us becoming more comfortable with using services like Microsoft Teams and Zoom to communicate for work and with friends, it seems likely that some clients will prefer the convenience of online meetings that can be fitted around work and childcare commitments. Likewise, the benefits of some of the new digital processes providers have been forced to create during lockdown will hopefully reduce the need for paper documents in future.
Only time will tell what the new normal will look like, but the lockdown could be a catalyst for faster digital change, with providers moving away from manual paper-based processes to a world where everything can be done online, and stored securely in the cloud to be accessed from anywhere. There’s still a lot of work to do to create a fully connected world between platforms, providers, advisers and clients, but the technology exists, innovation is already happening in parts of the market and COVID-19 has heightened demand. Providers who do not adapt will be left behind. With Vitality Invest’s modern adviser hub and client portal, they are well placed to deliver what advisers having long been looking for without the legacy systems holding them back.
VitalityInvest is a trading name of Vitality Corporate Services Limited. Vitality Corporate Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. 03/06/2020 | This article’s view is based on the law, practices and conditions as at the day of publication. While we have made every effort to ensure they are accurate, we accept no responsibility for our interpretation or any future changes. | VI O 0093
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