Adoption of industry changing technology takes time – it starts by setting the snowball in motion, writes Anthony Rafferty, CEO, Origo
Having been in the FinTech market as long as we have – Origo was established over 30 years ago – we are more than aware that even the best technology can take time to bed in to an industry. What tends to happen is a snowball effect, whereby you build a service and set it in motion, and it gathers pace and size over time, until it is a runaway success.
Early adopters make the first moves, and are the trail blazers, after which the rest of the industry comes on board.
We saw this with the launch of the Origo Transfer Service in 2008. The service enabled the industry to speed up pension transfers from taking several months to just days to complete; some transfers are made in minutes. Origo Transfer Service now handles the vast majority of all pensions transfers in the UK, creating huge efficiencies and cost savings for the market.
Similarly, with the Origo Integration Hub. Our centralised service which enables products providers, platforms and adviser software houses to link once to the Hub and then connect to any other user for key services. Currently, these services include investment valuations, bulk valuations, account opening, remuneration, transfer tracking and bulk transaction history.
We knew we had a service that made absolute sense for the industry, enabling considerable efficiencies, cost, time and resource savings for its users. Yet, although launched in 2016, by 2020 just 20 companies had signed up. Then the snowball effect occurred. As we go into 2023, we will have over 50 companies, including top industry names, who will be using the Origo Integration Hub, with others in the pipeline.
A more recent service launched for the benefit of the market is the Unipass Letter of Authority (ULoA) service, a secure, digital means for advisers to obtain the authority they need to work on behalf of their clients. We have over 2,000 financial advisers signed up to use the service. But what we need to make it work for the industry in the way that it can, is for more providers and platforms to come onboard.
Does it make sense for the industry? Of course; we researched it thoroughly and have built a robust system that can significantly enhance the propositions of platforms and providers, as well as delivering vastly better outcomes for advice firms and end clients
The reason advisers are so behind the service and call it a potential “game changer”* is that currently, as the recent A Fragmented World report from the lang cat showed**, clients can wait weeks or even months for their adviser to obtain all the authorities they need from providers and platforms. This not only costs advice firms time and money when submitting and chasing LoAs but creates a negative impression of their own business – caused by what should be a fast and simple digital process.
ULoA provides plenty of benefits for providers and platforms too. By eliminating paper from the process, Origo removes the elements where there is potential for human error, as well as the cost of postage and the risk of postal delays. As the service enables advice firms to track progress online, it saves on support staff time fielding chase-up calls from advisers on the progress with their client’s LoA and allows advisers to keep clients fully advised.
It also plays into companies’ ESG bottom lines, with the savings on paper and postage, manual sorting and input, potential duplication of effort, and consequent operational costs and delays.
Potential users we speak to are clear that it will do away with one of the main sticking points of adviser/provider processing, as well as improving customer journeys and driving up efficiency within their businesses.
Advisers are clearly keen to see it in place – 2,000+ sign ups speaks volumes – what we need is the snowball effect. It will come.
Our years as a FinTech have taught us to be patient. We have set the snowball in motion. The benefits to the industry are clear and tangible for both provider/platform propositions, advice firms and the end client. In 2023, with Consumer Duty being implemented, we expect to see the snowball start to rapidly pick up speed and grow.