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Opening the door to electronic commerce

Five life companies have banded together to look at electronically sending advisers information and data on risk products.

Tuesday, June 2nd 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

Data and information from life offices could be sent electronically to advisers by the end of the year if that's what people want, InvestmentLink chief executive Frank Habrle says.
Five insurance companies (AIA, Guardian Assurance, National Insurance Life and Health, Royal & SunAlliance and Sovereign) have agreed to fund a feasibility study to look into the idea of sending information to advisers electronically.
The project is called InsuranceLink, and is being facilitated by industry-owned utility InvestmentLink.

Habrle says InvestmentLink has been sending advisers client specific data on New Zealand funds for just over a year now.
The InsuranceLink study is due to be finished by the end of July, and if it looks like a viable proposition a system could be up and running before 1999.
He says the lessons learnt in the InvestmentLink rollout and the introduction of CPS Systems as a major shareholder in InvestmentLink Australia all augurs well for a reasonably rapid start-up phase.
The InsuranceLink concept envisages using web browser technology that would allow information to be sent two ways. Besides life companies and fund managers sending data to advisers, advisers will be able to ask questions and seek information from the companies.
Habrle describes the study as being "blue skies" project which is starting with "a blank sheet of paper".
Life offices and advisers are being asked what the issues are and what needs to be done to improve the current arrangements.
The InsuranceLink project "opens the door to electronic commerce in a broader sense," he says.
The cost of the study hasn't been disclosed, however Habrle says it's being "fully funded" and it's "not an insignificant amount of money".
While five companies are involved at this stage the others aren't being ruled out of participating.
Habrle says the concept is complementary to InvestmentLink and it will make a much more compelling argument for firms that are involved in both the risk and investment business to look at electronic communication and data dissemination.
"The policy here is to bring all the fund managers and insurance companies into one information delivery hub."
Habrle says he is pretty enthusiastic about this project and the need to develop a further industry co-operative.
"We are very pleased we have got this far," Habrle says. "It's a big first step and there's quite a few other steps in the process before anything goes ahead."
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