New home-grown financial planning software provider Adviser Intelligence claims it can help planners become up to four times more efficient – just as ASIC begins policing compliance with the controversial opt-in provisions.

It launches the first of its three major modules next week, starting with the Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) module. This will be followed by its separate insurance and investment components, which are timed to launch two weeks and four to six weeks later, respectively.

“The game plan has always been to create efficiencies within planning practices…with the administration and all the compliance reforms coming in, the administration gap is widening, there’s a lot more that advisers have to do,” says Jacqui Henderson, director of Adviser Intelligence.

The FoFA module automates a number of processes that are currently done manually, including automating fee disclosure requirements.

“It enables you to develop service packages, add in all your fees and then produce statements for clients…it automates the whole fee disclosure, it’s going to solve a lot of problems for the industry,” Henderson says.

The initial roll-out includes the customer relationship management (CRM) package and client portals. This forms the basis of the hub-and-spoke design, with CRM at the core and other tools added around this.

By planners, for planners

Henderson knows all too well the administrative and compliance challenges facing financial planners, as a former practice manager and co-founder of planning business Henderson Maxwell.

She believes planners have so far been under-served in the level of technology support they receive, describing existing packages from the likes of XPLAN and Coin as “very clunky, very complex and hard to set up, and frustrating for advisers to set up and use.”

The launch also comes at a fortuitous time for the software company and advisers, given the intense regulatory, government and industry focus on the proposed life insurance advice reforms.

“At present it takes around four hours to produce an insurance SoA. We’re reducing that down to an hour…taking out all the components that are inefficient, such as the multiple data entry that’s involved,” Henderson says.

She says the life insurance advice module “will streamline the fact finding, comparator, quoting and the whole application form process into one screen, it’s the first ever solution that’s going to be able to do that.”

It also includes modelling tools, enabling the adviser to sit in front of the client and model different insurance scenarios. These are captured in the system, and when the Statement of Advice is produced, around 90 per cent of the information is pre-populated on the forms.

“We’ve made our system completely customisable and configurable, with no need to bring in an expert…your cost of advice becomes a lot cheaper, plus you also get to spend more time in front of your client producing value,” Henderson says.

The cost for the out-of-the-box Adviser Intelligence package is also considerably lower than others in the space. Henderson says its plans start from around $49 a month, “for a CRM system specific to the financial services industry. XPLAn and Coin are three to four times more expensive.”

Target markets

Adviser Intelligence’s initial target market is the independent and non-aligned practices, smaller dealer groups and Australian Financial Services licensees. Around 10 licensees are already on board, having been involved in the beta-testing stages, including independent licensee My Online Advisers.

“In the IFA space, I can do a demonstration with a client, and instantly they’re asking ‘where do I sign up?’ It’s very powerful at the IFA level,” Henderson says.

However, she sees the same potential advantages for practices within the bank-owned advice channel, but acknowledges the challenge of penetrating this space.

“I think they’re missing [out on meeting] the needs of the advisers and the tools that they need. All I seem to hear from practices that sit in bigger dealer groups is they are frustrated, without the right tools to run their businesses,” Henderson says.

Further additions include an open source application store component, which is available now. Initial partnerships include applications from Astute Wheel, Omnium, InvestmentLink and Morningstar. Other tools will be added on an ongoing basis.

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Glenn Freeman is a senior journalist for Professional Planner. He has around three years’ experience in financial services journalism, having also covered broader areas of business including M&A activity and energy. His journalistic experience includes five years spent abroad, where he was editor of an oil and gas title in the United Arab Emirates along with other in-house and freelance projects, which included stints in motorcycle and automotive journalism.