Fine-tuning. Finding efficiencies without reducing quality

Financial Advisory

25 May 2023

ClientConsumer DutyEmerging MarketsFinancial AdvisoryMeeting of MindsTechnology

Expert: Chris Davies, Model Office Facilitator: Kathy Ellison, Savanta


  1. Many firms are using client portals, where clients can log on, self-serve & interact with their products. However, many paraplanner admitted that some of these are antiquated, allowing little real value add or genuine interaction by the client
  2. The use of better technology for client portals in future could significantly improve the adviser office & client experience.
  3. Clients could self-serve, make changes and even add their own fact find information. This could lead to great efficiencies, as could free up the time spent in fact find, answering queries or making amends
  4. More information and interaction would ensure clients are more engaged with their product, feeding into the principles of Consumer Duty

Discussion points:

As younger customers start to come more into the market, this can only become more important and wider used. However, there was debate on the potential inefficiency of customers adding data in incorrectly.

Of course, we can go further and use open banking to see beyond what we are handling, as well as using information to see ahead to life events which advisers could help with, again linking to Consumer Duty which demands awareness of foreseeable harm.

However, there is still a lack of awareness and understanding of benefits vs risks of open banking so that customers, and even advisers, appear reluctant to make the most of this. Education of the opportunity will be needed.

Tech can be used to automate report writing|
Another area that many agreed was that technology could help all paraplanners find efficiencies is in report writing.

There was a really mixed experience of how efficient systems are today with some praising them, especially Genovo, and other feeling they are needlessly complex; with others not using systems at all for their report writing, rather just using word templates.

With modern systems, there should be no excuses – as long as good quality data is input, the report should be automated. All admitted though that a comprehensive, automated report is not enough - the very best reports have an easy-to-understand executive summary that is Consumer Duty compliant.

Tech can act as an enabler for Consumer Duty
Applying technology in the right way can ensure that data from fact finds and analysis can be used as evidence to prove good outcomes as required by the FCA on Consumer Duty.

Currently all aspects of the customer journey use manual aspects, if tech can add efficiency, paraplanners can focus on the more important, unique aspects of the job.

Tech can be used replace the need for paper & wet signatures
One of the biggest bug bears is that paper is still rife with many providers still requiring wet signatures & customers requiring to complete manual paperwork.

Covid forced a change and any started to accept scanned signatures; but since then, this has been rescinded.

The debate on why this is the case focused on the fear of compliance so many legacy organisations will be change and the growing fear of scams and fraud from consumers.

Tech needs to be front and centre in driving new platforms which are more cyber resilient with strong passwords and paraplanners need to continue to use due diligence, make sure you have the right software to avoid the ever more sophisticated scams and remain clients’ trusted advisers.

Changing behaviour might not be so easy but think what you could do with the improved efficiency.

All of us need to take a step back and look at what we are currently using (or not using), at every stage of the customer interaction journey and question ‘how could I use technology & software better at this stage’.

Start with what we have already. Be honest, ask for training from suppliers again, schedule in time to ‘play around’ with software and reach out to colleagues or across firms for tips and tricks. And allow the tech to measure what we are currently doing; how efficient we are and how that can change going forwards. 

Key takeaways:

  • If good use of tech can save 10-20% of time, what would we do with that extra half to one day a week? Ideas ranged from using in for CPD, training, developing more clients or indeed working a 4-day week
  • The advice sector needs to work closely with the providers, the tech industry & the regulators to ensure the right trusted technology is used to improve efficiencies, drive consumer confidence and help deliver Consumer Duty