Areas for advisers to embrace technology
Getting ahead at the Empowering Advice Through Technology conference
Open Banking, artificial intelligence and cyber security are all issues that advisers should be considering. They made up just some of the topics at the recent Empowering Advice Through Technology conference in London.
The practice management and platforms session, featuring Seven Investment Management managing director, intermediary, Verona Kenny and Focus Solutions managing director Dave Upton, substantially addressed the need for more integrated relationships between these two types of technology suppliers.
The adviser audience voted strongly in favour of enhanced automation of client switching and rebalancing processes, together with better ways of obtaining client consent for advised asset switches.
The Open Banking and Open Finance session has already been covered by my colleague Sonia Rach in Money Marketing last month. That said, I would add that, with the long-delayed pensions dashboard project still some way from delivery, there is a significant window, perhaps two years, during which advisers can leverage the ability to show Open Banking data.
Banks must provide this to them when clients give suitable consent, side by side with the long-term savings and investment information they can access via their practice management systems and client portals, to deliver a holistic perspective of the clients’ short- and long-term financial life.
This puts advisers at a significant commercial advantage over banks for the next couple of years. There is a compelling case for advisers to encourage clients to use their Open Banking services, which, at least for the time being, will be richer in information than banks can provide.
The artificial intelligence session highlighted many ways in which AI is already being used to benefit advice. Praemium chief executive Michael Ohanessian explained the work the platform and practice management system provider has done to be able to recognise consumer behaviour, which suggests clients may be about to move assets away from an adviser firm.
This has been operational in Australia for a couple of months and has just been made available to UK users of the platform. Personally, I have not come across any other platform offering this in the UK market, so I see this as a major first for Praemium.
The company also took the opportunity to announce that the Plum system, which it acquired a couple of years ago, has been completely rebuilt using Microsoft Dynamics. The replacement system, known as Wealthcraft, is now being rolled out to UK customers.
Wealthcraft has much to offer. It should certainly be on the list of options to be considered by any firms looking to review their current system, especially if they wish to take advantage of Microsoft Dynamics.
Aviva life analytics director Simon Warsop also explained how the life and pensions giant has developed AI that enables it to identify which pension savers have the greatest propensity to make further investments. Such capabilities should be manna from heaven for advisers with large dormant client banks. Perhaps 10-15 per cent of dormant clients are great prospects, but the question is which ones? This AI should deliver the answer.
This panel also included American financial planning AI guru Robert Kirk, founder and chief executive of IntergenData. In his first UK appearance, Kirk showed what the next generation of financial planning software will look like, when it includes the ability to factor in multi-generational family medical histories and a range of other data sources to deliver far more accurate personalised financial plans than are available from current systems.
This presented a powerful vision of the future. Systems like these will enable advisers to evolve from financial planning artists to financial planning scientists if they wish.
According to experts, fraudsters are increasingly targeting financial services firms and are getting better at identifying the right potential victims. Last September the FBI found business email compromise fraud cases produced losses of $26bn across 177 countries over a three-year period. It is unrealistic to believe such issues are not a problem in the UK adviser market.
Origo and Beyond Encryption announced their next-generation Unipass Mailock service. It will be accessible by all 45,000 industry users of the Unipass identity service. This is a really valuable initiative for the industry and I will look at it in more detail in the near future.
Both the Origo and Intergen Data services won best-in-show awards for their demonstrations, as did moneyinfo.com and Wealthify.
Ian McKenna is director at the Finance & Technology Research Centre