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3 min read

Businesses Not Meeting the Needs of Smarter Working at Risk

Posted by Picture of Team B.E. Team B.E.

Although the rate of adaptation to change by businesses has been positive, simply altering the processes necessary to keep new business flows in place is not enough.

There has been an overwhelming 88% backing for electronic signatures identified in the recent Money Marketing readers’ poll, demonstrating E-signatures, alongside aspects such as cybersecurity and the letter of authority processes are all in need of further upheaval.

Printed Mail

Many firms still must make a daily pilgrimage to their offices to open and scan mail. With the digital communication channels now open to us, this should not be unnecessary.

As it stands, all communications from providers to advisers originate in electronic form (I am assuming there are no dark corners on any institution where typewriters still survive) before being printed. So, why can’t we take paper out of the process and make delivery digital too?

Previously, firms may have been locked into contracts with external mailing houses that prevent them from taking this step. Many such organisations may have breached their service level agreements in lockdown, presenting opportunities for renegotiation.

With institutions also concerned about their carbon footprint and cost, the long-term benefits to going paperless are clear.

Cybersecurity

Insurers and platforms are currently not doing enough to support advisers who operate under good cybersecurity practices.

There was a recent case where an adviser, having sent confidential client data to an insurer by encrypted email, was asked to resubmit it unencrypted, because the insurer wouldn’t accept encrypted email.

We'll leave the life company unnamed, as it could easily have been virtually any other life office or platform. The failure of platforms and insurance companies to accept encrypted email is causing real consumer detriment at the very least, and more likely, serious risks of cybercrime daily. This can’t be allowed to continue.

There is a vast array of different email encryption systems that could be used, but only one in our industry where 38,000 advisers and their support colleagues already have an account with them. I refer, of course, to Unipass Mailock.

A dedicated and comprehensive industry system that will deliver real benefits to advisers and clients, Unipass Mailock is ready and waiting for providers to utilise. Platforms and life offices failing to quickly embrace such tools should think seriously about their corporate and personal liability, responsibility under senior managers and certification regime.

Letter of Authority

Another area that is long overdue for improvement is the letter of authority process.

For 18 months a diverse group of 30 firms, including advisers, networks, support groups, employee benefit consultants, practice management systems, cashflow plan suppliers, platforms, life insurers and more, have been working with operating efficiency fintech company Origo to deliver a new Unipass Letter of Authority (ULoA) system.

We recently gained access to preview the system, which is just going into user testing with the intention of going live later in the year. There are lots of very useful features in what has been built, but the current iteration involves an electronic process where advisers will still need to print the letter of authority and obtain a wet signature.

The restriction is not because Origo cannot implement electronic signatures but because many insurers and platforms are still dragging their heels on accepting electronic signatures for letters of authority.

More advisers are talking about breaking ties with business partners who cannot meet their needs to work smarter after Covid-19. Any organisation that can’t accept electronic signatures for all business processes by the end of June should prepare for a collapse in their new business in the second half of the year.

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