I attended a very interesting debate last night in the Old Library of Lloyds of London hosted by the Financial Services Club chaired by Chris Skinner, Chairman, followed by an excellent dinner sponsored by Siemens.
The discussion focussed on the time/cost issues of processing 'seasonal' financial products such as ISAs, Pensions and Mortgages. Whilst the panel represented different aspects of the process, Fidelity Int., Cofunds, Lloyds TSB, British Bankers Assoc. and Tax Incentivised Savings Assoc., the consensus at the end of the discussion was that the problem was the 'pen and paper' (I particularly liked Peter Tylers' disparaging remark about the outdated desire for 'wet signatures') and the solution, technology. They also saw IFAs playing a valuable intermediary role in this process.
The payoff remark from Carol Knight of TISA was telling – "Why is this a surprise? Why haven't we done anything about it before now?"
Over dinner we all agreed that the problem is cultural with the industry resisting automation of repetitive processes in favour of the familiar. Of course I couldn't resist describing how PAOGA has developed an automated solution with an IFA which meets the sectors requirements to smooth out the peaks and troughs thereby reducing costs, time and errors whilst facilitating regulatory compliance.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers (AIFA) has announced that its new Director General Stephen Gay will join on 1 December 2010. I look forward to working with him to change the business for the better.