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Technology in Financial Services finally comes of age (after thirty years of waiting)

When I started out as a Broker Consultant in this wonderful industry in August 1978, my boss at National Employers Life instructed me that when talking to ‘Brokers’, as well as being knowledgeable on our products, I should also be aware of changes taking place that will "inevitably have a big impact on the lives of financial advisers"

One was ‘Professionalism’ and that brokers would all have to take exams to ‘prove’ their proficiency, and the other was ‘Technology’.

Thirty three years on and nothing’s changed – yet everything has changed.  Exams and professionalism still feel like an unwelcome chore for many – despite professionalism and quality standards inevitably becoming a key differentiator in a post RDR world.

Technology continues to excite and scare financial advisers in equal measures, the latter proved to some extent by the fact that as an industry, we are still one of the least engaged with the Internet (how did we allow that to happen?).

Yesterday I attended Finovate 2012 in London, the leading global Financial Services Technology conference which excites and terrifies audiences and presenters alike.  This conference is SO exciting, that I will attend future events wherever they are in the world.

The format is wonderful.  Each accepted exhibiting software firm has just seven minutes to present their new Financial Services technology to the audience.  No PowerPoint allowed and your demo must be live.  A logistical nightmare for the organisers, but it worked perfectly and kept to time without a hitch.  How many other conferences can boast that?

Using technology live is challenging to say the least, but doing it in front of a big audience and get your message across in just seven minutes certainly gets the heart pumping.

To witness some of this technology got my own heart pumping.  The idea that I was watching our industry change right in front of me was thrilling.

Many of the presentations were around payment technology and the challenge of making banking a more personal experience, but we were also treated to presentations which looked at innovative investment management technology.

I came away thinking that financial advisers should not underestimate developments in the banking world; one presenter heralded the concept that technology can finally make banks customer centric rather than product centric.  Whilst on one level that is potentially laughable, on another it is ironic that technology will finally personalise the service that banks give to us and we saw some great examples of that in the live presentations.

Technology moves on at pace, and far faster than we can cope with.  One interesting statistic from the Netherlands’ Rabobank, is that online banking is becoming old hat.  According to one presenter, of those that used its online banking facility, 33% now prefer to use the bank’s iPhone app instead because it’s easy, fast, safe, empowering and literally in the palm of your hand.

I have no doubt that technology is now starting to have a profound impact on the world of financial services – and at every level.  It only remains for entrepreneurial financial advisers to use it to significantly enhance their existing service proposition, or to differentiate themselves and reinvent the way they engage with clients, prospects and professional introducers.

My old boss used to say to me that “technology will save advisers time and money”.  Advisers used to respond “if and when you can get it to work”.  To witness yesterday thirty five live technology demonstrations, left me in no doubt that we’re living in incredibly exciting times and with tools that not only work and save us time and money – but which through a little imagination will make us and our clients money.

Bring it on.

Philip Calvert
Founder of IFA Life

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Author: Philip Calvert
Posted: Wednesday, February 08, 2012 | 12:21:26 PM

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15 February 2012 | 2:07:32 PM  Ben Murison wrote:
Excellent article Phil. We’ve spent the last two years building a platform to enable IFAs to learn more about Structured Products (SPGO) but not only do we sometimes get the usual “ooh structured Products wouldn’t touch them” we are also encountering some IFAs who are resisting any kind of technology. A couple of our directors (ex structured product experts at banks) are looked upon like untrustworthy teenagers who are going to take their business away which couldn’t be further from the truth! Our aim is to compliment the services IFA’s currently offer and allow them to use structured products in the easiest and safest possible way by offering online comparison, due diligence reports and monitoring systems. What better way to streamline your business but with technology?
09 February 2012 | 12:14:44 PM  Ian  Brewer wrote:
Thought you should know Buerock one of our partners is the sponser of Finovate and I beleive they where hosting workshops about Virtual Advisor

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