Business news update
Selected business and technology news in the advisory market
PFS survey reveals high proportion of adviser firms looking to recruit
More than three quarters of financial advice firms are considering taking on additional staff in the next few years, according to a Personal Finance Society (PFS) survey.
The professional body’s 2016 Member Survey reveals that 46% of firms have plans to take on additional staff over the next 1-3 years, with an additional 30% saying they are uncertain but may consider boosting their workforce over that timeframe.
Less than one quarter of respondents to the survey said they did not have any plans to take on more staff in the near term (24%).
The survey also revealed that a lack of new talent remained a major concern within the profession, with more than one in five respondents (22%) saying a lack of talent and skilled trainees was a major threat to the success of their business over the next 1-3 years.
PFS chief executive Keith Richards (above right) said: “The survey results reinforce the need to encourage and support new talent in the profession, which is vital to meeting succession planning requirements, and the needs of an increasing number of consumers who require professional financial advice.
“We have recently sponsored the development of a new Financial Adviser apprenticeship standard, which offers a much-needed alternative route for advisers to enter the profession. We will be launching additional support and ‘good practice’ guidance for member firms throughout 2017.
“Apprenticeships can help to overcome many of the financial barriers facing financial planning firms seeking new talent, and together with several other initiatives, will go a long way to easing the increasing risk of a skills shortage developing further in the coming years.”
Two in five respondents to the PFS survey said they were likely or very likely to offer technical apprenticeships in the next 1-3 years (40%), while work placements and internships were a little more popular, attracting the interest of 44% of respondents.
Graduate schemes were less popular, with a third of survey respondents saying they were likely or very likely to offer a graduate scheme in the next three years (34%).
First four companies live on Origo’s Integration Hub
Four companies are live and using the Origo Integration Hub, the not-for-profit Fintech company has announced. The first four joiners are; JCS, MetLife, LV= and Time4Advice.
Paul Pettitt, managing director of Origo (pictured), said that Origo brought together a cross section of the industry’s platforms, providers, back-office and software companies, to work on the Integration Hub, bringing their knowledge and expertise to the table in terms of informing the operational and technology specifications
The aim is to make integration between companies, and the delivery of key elements like valuations data, easier and faster to effect.
“The Origo Integration Hub does what it says on the tin, enabling individual companies to connect to one another through one central hub, regardless of which version of standard or bespoke integration is supported by their partnering systems,” Pettitt said.
“Integration is fundamental in the adviser market – enabling communications and data, such as real-time valuations, between firm systems and various platforms for clients, to be quick, cost effective and secure – reducing the risks to their business.
“Where integration doesn’t exist for example, adviser firms often have to either rekey from paper or screen, or download data from one system and manually input it into another. That is inefficient, has time and resource costs for adviser firms and leaves them vulnerable to mistakes being made. Not surprisingly, integration between systems is high on the adviser priority list.
“We are delighted to have been able to work with the industry and bring the Integration Hub to market. Now, platforms, providers and adviser software companies will be able to quickly, easily and cost effectively integrate with each other as the Hub grows – all without the hassle and expense of creating individual integrations.
“Importantly, as the service enables automatic connection to all other companies using the Hub, it provides the opportunity to easily connect with new trading partners if they wish – partners which IT and commercial considerations previously might have put beyond their immediate reach.
“Adviser firms should also begin to feel the positive impact in their businesses as more companies begin using the Integration Hub, creating a more streamlined, secure flow of data between all of the participating companies.
“With Origo’s Integration Hub, connectivity no longer needs to be cumbersome.”
Jon Pocock, head of Portals and Integration at LV=, said: “Origo’s Integration Hub will make the setting up of new integrations much easier, reduce the ongoing costs of maintaining those integrations and ultimately make it simpler to add more complex products going forward.”
The first live message to pass through the Integration Hub was from adviser firm Hartley Hepworth FBA in Sheffield, using JCS. Managing director Glyn Hepworth said: “Setting up and accessing valuations from MetLife via Origo’s Integration Hub was free, easy and completely transparent. For us it was no different to all the other valuations we do on JCS but we are now looking forward to having many more links available via this new service, particularly with niche product providers, and covering more products.”
Mitchell Philpott, founder and managing director of Time4Advice, added: “Our philosophy is to concentrate on what we do best – client relationship and business automation software – and to integrate that with best-of-breed suppliers of complimentary technology and data services. Extending and maintaining those data services just became easier with the launch of Origo’s Integration Hub, which is why we are very happy to embrace the initiative and why we were one of the first companies to sign to the service.”
Origo Connect competition
The company is also running a competition ‘Origo Connect’ on Twitter and LinkedIn from 1-3 February.
Origo will be tweeting a puzzle inspired by BBC Two’s Only Connect game show, designed to test people’s ability to make connections. Entrants simply reply to @Origo_Services with their answers and include #OrigoConnect in the tweet or reply. If all four answers are correct, they will be entered into the prize draw. Direct Messages will also be accepted as entries.
Pettitt says: “Our last Twitter campaign, highlighting the benefits of the pensions dashboard, demonstrated a prototype of a dashboard data feed engine we had developed, which proved extremely successful.
“This time we are introducing some fun with the competition – as well as expanding onto LinkedIn – with the aim of spotlighting how the industry and consumers can benefit from the connectivity offered by the Integration Hub.”
Ascot Lloyd launches Adviser Academy
National IFA Ascot Lloyd has launched Adviser Academy, designed to provide a path to a career in financial advice and develop a new generation of IFAs.
The Academy is aimed at individuals from various backgrounds who are returning to the job market, looking for a career change, or have recently left school and wish to start their careers in financial planning.
The intensive training programme will last up to 2.5 years, during which time trainees will achieve the necessary qualifications and skills required to become a fully qualified financial adviser.
Once the training programme has been completed trainee advisers will be fully supported by Ascot Lloyd to continue their personal development and achieve chartered status as an independent financial adviser.
Richard Dunbabin, chief executive, Ascot Lloyd (pictured) says: “We are looking for individuals who have the potential to develop into the financial advisers that today’s challenging financial landscape calls for.
“Industry regulation has driven significant consolidation accompanied by improved professional standards, and we will look for the high calibre candidates that have the ability to thrive in the new world of financial advice.
“This project is an exciting development for Ascot Lloyd and underlines our commitment to bringing new blood into the industry and training the next generation of IFAs. It will enable us to deliver a better service to our clients by expanding the skills base of our staff, while meeting growing demand for independent financial advice.”
The deadline for applications for the first assessment is 21 February and after an initial telephone interview, shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend the first assessment day at Ascot Lloyd’s London office on the 1st of March.
FTRC launches robo-advice analysis service
Ian McKenna’s Finance Technology Research Centre has launched a new service that will provides independent analysis of automated advice propositions (robo-advice) from the business-to-business, direct-to-consumer and adviser software sectors, measured against a set of benchmarks.
The service, Digital Wealth Insights, includes details of 20 key digital advice proposition from outset and intends adding a further 5 – 10 new reviews every month.
The 20 firms analysed in the initial report are grouped into four categories: non-advised investment, advised investment, personal financial managers, and microsavings tools.
There are two levels of reporting available through the website – a basic free report on each proposition that anyone can access and a more comprehensive report available only to subscribers.
The propositions are analysed in several important areas using an objective and independent best-in-breed model developed by F&TRC over the last five years. These categories include:
• Target audience
• Strengths and areas for further improvement
• Product offerings
• Core functionality and key principles
• Investment vehicles
• Overall summary
• Analysis of proposition against relevant F&TRC model.
Ian McKenna, director at F&TRC, said due to the diversity of propositions in the space “it is very hard to compare these services consistently, as so many services are trying to do different things. To address this challenge, we started by creating a clear model of all the different types of services and the key components in each one. Using our model, we can produce more effective comparisons, which can highlight the differences between various offerings.
“Importantly we have also added our own opinions on the overall impressions the proposition left on us. There are many new offerings that have huge potential but haven’t quite realised it yet, although with time and investment they may do so. We wanted to recognise this potential in a way that objective metrics can’t always highlight.
“The size of this sector is vast and growing so we have started with a summary of some big players and also some exciting smaller ones and will grow the analysis month on month.”
The research can be accessed at www.digitalwealthinsights.com