Duncan McPherson

Link Advice has made several changes to improve its Adviser Online digital platform as it seeks to improve the crossover between the retail advice and institutional channels.

Professional Planner can reveal that the functionality includes streamlined digital registration for advisers on the ASIC Financial Adviser Registration, improved third-party authorisation and self-serve documentation.

The changes come amid calls from the industry and regulators for super funds to improve how advisers access their services.

The straight through processing for third-party authorisation is meant to reduce verification and approval times to only a few minutes once members accept the authority initiated by their adviser – Link specified the group deals with over 84,000 third-party requests from advisers every year.

Self-serve documentation means advisers can generate key member documents including member account profiles and Centrelink schedules.

“What we’ve heard quite consistently is it’s quite inefficient for adviser to be calling a fund’s contact centre to get this data or to get a Centrelink schedule,” Link Advice CEO Duncan McPherson says.

“What we’ve embarked upon is how do we remove the need for them to call contact centres – and that could be a 20-minute conversation to get the data – if we can allow them to do it digitally, they can do it on their own time.”

Additionally, the next round of enhances will include the automation of advice fees and streamlining fee consent requirements within the funds, as well as integration with other advice software. “We’ll be aiming to get that live in FY24,” McPherson says.

Crossroads

The government’s Quality of Advice Review response will pursue regulatory reform to give super funds more room for advice, but will set up a potential showdown over where advisers and trustees may have overlapping offerings.

McPherson – whose background extends back into the retail advice world as a former licensee head at MLC Wealth before crossing over into the institutional space – says the catalyst for these changes is to improve the workflow and relationship between advisers and super funds.

From an adviser perspective, McPherson says there’s an opportunity for them to learn to work with the trustees who have their own regulatory oversight and responsibility for their members.

“There’s an opportunity for advisers to really understand [the regulatory framework], the fund, and how they can work with them and form a partnership moreso than anything else,” McPherson says.

“That’s the next step – how do we help financial planners present themselves as a viable partner to superannuation funds for the benefit of the common client or member.”

McPherson previously spoke to Professional Planner about the group’s footprint in advice – its contact centres deal with 3.5-million-member phone calls and half a million of those have simple advice related question about their investments, insurance or retirement.

But while Link has sought to improve the efficiencies for advisers accessing their member funds, McPherson noted there will still be a need for expanded super fund advice to address the advice gap.

While 2000 of Link’s members were referred to comprehensive advice, only a fraction were ready to commence a relationship with an adviser.

“Less than 7 per cent ended up with advice, as defined by an SOA [Statement of Advice],” McPherson said.

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