Iress: Covid-19 pushing advisers into digital working

Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown have prompted many advisers to adopt what previously had been seen as best-practice – but optional – ways of working, Iress chief executive Andrew Walsh says.

Sunday, March 29th 2020, 6:19PM

Andrew Walsh

The software provider has launched a hub of free technology-related information and support for the financial services industry.

Visitors can access a range of guidance and tools including information on how to continue to support clients while working remotely as well as how to access information securely. This advice is available to all, not just Iress clients.

Iress chief executive Andrew Walsh said: "In the past month, financial services businesses have had to adapt suddenly – with normal ways of working and interacting breaking down and the need for digital interaction rapidly accelerating.

"Sound management and guidance by financial professionals is one of the ways society will navigate this crisis. It’s our job to support and assist the financial community to do that through technology."

He said people were quickly moving to the sort of digital interfaces with their clients that many firms had wanted to set up but had not yet had the catalyst to do so.

Advisers were quickly having to work out how to obtain things such as digital signatures from clients, for their authorisation, and how to transmit information securely.

"Especially if they are dealing with changes to investment portfolios now, the realities are coming home to roost there."

Walsh said some adviser businesses were already well positioned to continue to function but that was not true of everyone.

Some still relied on an office desktop computer, he said, and a file server in the office. "There are lots of gotchas, the longer this goes on."

Things that had previously been seen as optional extras to streamline and futureproof a business were now mandatory for advisers who wanted to keep working, he said.

He said it was likely that more people who could work from home would do so at least occasionally into the future. But some would also finish the lockdown craving the office space, he said.

Client expectations would also change, and they would expect to be able to interact digitally even if advisers preferred to work face-to-face, he said. "Interaction on video is really useful. Encourage clients to turn videos on. It shouldn't be looked at as being uncomfortable."

People would also become more used to impromptu calls and video catch-ups instead of spending time scheduling meetings, he said. "The fact that someone's at home would normally make you think it's a disturbance but it's now normal."

Tags: Covid-19 IRESS technology

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