One of the ongoing bug-bears for advisers is that the different types of technology and software programmes which they use, simply don’t ‘talk to each other’ in supporting a seamless business strategy. We talk to Peter Ridlington, a Chartered Financial Planner, about Ningi, a business he has developed, which helps to solve IFAs’ complex technology challenges both now and in the future.
The past five years have seen the rapid rise of technology in most industries. We have seen acceleration in areas such as biotech, healthtech, fintech, edutech, cleantech, foodtech, agritech…and many more techs! But, over this time, there has been no transformative tech in the financial adviser market – until now.
We caught up with Peter Ridlington, who is a Chartered Financial Planner and Fellow of the CII to discuss this situation. Importantly, Peter is the founder and CEO of Ningi, a portfolio company of Haatch Ventures. As someone who knows the workings of the sector so well from working on the inside, Peter is the ideal person to help create solutions for the technology that advisers really need.
A pragmatic approach to adviser tech
Naturally, our first question to Peter was ‘what problems are you solving for advisers?’. ‘There are several’, he said. ‘The first one is that often advisory firms will use approximately 11 different bits of technology to help run their business, from cash flow modelling to platforms, and none of them talk to each other. We are creating software solutions that enable them to talk to each other. The time savings are huge, both for the advisers, and their clients. And just as important is the superior experience that advisers can deliver to their clients.’
He went on to say ‘the problem has been that technology like this has not been a viable option for small to medium IFA firms until now. Only the largest firms were able to build tech that can do this. But now our bespoke solutions are within the range of any size of advisory firm.’
Closing the advice gap
‘The second problem that we can help to solve is that of the advice gap; that is extending support to those people who want to save and invest, but don’t have sufficient assets to be viable for most financial advisers. By streamlining and digitising many of the processes involved, we can make it profitable for advisers to offer their services to clients with lower amounts available to invest.
‘This means that advisers can expand their client base cost effectively, which can have some very practical spin-offs. For example, it can enable an adviser to offer their services to the adult children of their clients. This means that the advice firm will be establishing a relationship with the next generation of clients, helping with intergenerational planning, and making it more likely that the assets will stay with the advisory firm when the client dies.’
‘There are other benefits too. We have been developing tools for advisers that they can use for lead generation. For example, we have created a Lifetime Allowance calculator to go on an IFA’s website, and just in the first month, advisers signed up several new clients from using this. We are also developing IHT calculators and financial health checks as lead generators as well.
‘We also think that our software can play a valuable role when the FCA’s Consumer Duty regulations come into force in the middle of next year. That’s because this proposition will enable the adviser to offer a better service to their clients, and critically provide the means to measure and evidence the impact of the advice they are delivering for their clients.’
‘The other benefit, of course, is that by helping the IFA firm to become more efficient, and to grow their client base, then it will increase the value of their business for when the time comes to sell the business’
How does Ningi help IFAs in practice?
So, if that is what Ningi are offering, what difference is it making to advisory firms in practice? Peter replied ‘we are delighted with the interest being shown. We designed the software to be attainable for small to medium-sized IFA firms, but we have been delighted that it is also attracting some bigger names as well – like Mazars and Westminster Wealth. But if you really want to know, why don’t you speak to some of our clients?’ So we did!
Lisa Tipton of New World Financial Group told us about the difference that using Ningi has made to her business commenting: ‘Our vision is really aligned with them, to make good financial planning available to far more people. They have given us a streamlined back office that is simpler, easier and with reduced costs. They asked us what we needed, and then they built it! The fact that Peter is a Chartered Financial Planner has helped a lot, as he intuitively knew what we wanted. They have also helped us to create our new subscription-based financial planning service.’
‘Ed Gascoigne, a Chartered Financial Planner from FLM, one of St James’s Place’s largest Practices, said “I am very excited about the LTA calculator that Ningi has created for us – it helps prospective clients to identify potential needs independently, before even speaking to an adviser.
‘This helps to bring visibility of the quantitative benefits of engaging advice earlier in the planning process; particularly relevant given some of the requirements of Consumer Duty.’
James Anderson of Westminster Wealth said ‘We looked at over a dozen potential suppliers to produce a digital advice engine. Ningi was the only one that offered a bespoke solution that we could build on over time. Our starting point was to create a platform that would allow online guidance for fund choices for AVC schemes, and Ningi shared our vision of where we might go beyond this.’
So, whatever the size of your advice business, it seems clear that Ningi has a bespoke solution for you.