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Interoperability – more than just techie jargon

Paul Pettitt, managing director Origo, outlines the importance of the behind the scenes work that keeps the financial services industry moving forward.

One of the drawbacks of technology is that it is incredibly jargon driven. For those who don’t have to deal with IT as part of their day-to-day job, this can make it an area that is inaccessible and, I consequence, often avoided unless it’s absolutely necessary. 
The fact is, however, that technology is both a driving force and an enabler in our industry at the macro and the micro levels. 
Since launch in 1989, Origo has been instrumental in the development of financial services technology. Yet much of our effort takes place behind the scenes, working collaboratively with the industry members to establish eCommerce standards and services, which when rolled out help financial advisers do their everyday job in a more efficient, more client friendly way. For example, Origo Options, launched in 2008, has helped reduce cash transfer times for personal pensions by 80%.

So when we say we’re excited about interoperability and what it will deliver for the financial services industry, we do so not just as a technology company but also as an organisation that genuinely strives to improve business process and cut costs for the benefit of the entire industry.

In layman’s terms

So what is interoperability and why is it important for our industry? In layman’s terms, interoperability allows disparate information systems from multiple companies to work easily together and exchange data. 
You might think that in the 21st century, tech systems talk to one another already, and they do – an enormous amount of data is transferred on a day-to-day basis in the financial services industry. In fact, Origo’s Standards have long enabled transmitted data to be read, understood and acted on correctly at both ends and in a cost effective manner bringing efficiencies right across the industry.

However, the problems arise when different operators use different systems that don’t talk to one another. A good analogy is with mobile phones, where all Vodafone users, for example, could phone each other but would not be able to connect to anyone using any other network, and vice versa.

What interoperability enables is the passing of data between competitive services – so anyone can send data to anyone else no matter what system they are using.

With the FSA spotlighting the need for platforms to be able to carry out re-registration of assets, the need for cross-industry exchange of data has become a priority. It is possible to re-register assets manually or using partial automation but that is costly, time consuming and lays the client’s assets open to risk.

Origo’s answer has been to extend the functionality of the award-winning Options Transfers service, enabling a plug and play solution that allows platforms, SIPPs and other providers to carry out automated asset transfers with the minimal of IT resource.

At the same time, Origo has been working with other technology services companies to ensure Options Transfers is interoperable. In early February 2013, Origo and Altus carried out the first live and interoperable transfer of assets between Skandia and Fidelity FundsNetwork.

From an adviser perspective all of this work will go on behind the scenes but at the end of the day, it will enable advisers needing to transfer client assets between parties to do so quickly and seamlessly and without encashing those assets along the way.

Hence, for us techies, interoperability is both an exciting and important step forward for the industry.

For more information on Origo Options re-registration go to:


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