NextWealth has today named AJ Bell Investcentre, Fidelity FundsNetwork, Standard Life Wrap and True Potential as digital process champions for leading the pack by digitally enabling 90% of their document submission processes. The recognition was published in the latest edition of NextWealth’s Adviser Tech Stack research, recognising these firms for their efforts and performance against competition with 16 other platforms.

** Email for further details on our Adviser Tech Stack report. Advisers who are members of the NextWealth Research Panel will receive a free summary at our Adviser Tech Stack event in January. Sign up here.**

As a result of Covid-19, businesses were forced to reexamine their processes for documents and signature requirements, and adjust development priorities.  Our research shows that 14 out of 20 platforms accept eSignatures, up from nine in April.

The ease of doing business – and that includes the requirements for various documents to be submitted – is playing an increasingly important role in an adviser’s platform due diligence. Enabling delivery of a consistently smooth and efficient service for their clients is a significant decision factor as fees come under increasing pressure, and time spent chasing paperwork is becoming unaffordable.

We published a comparison of platform digital processes in April as we were all still adjusting to working remotely. We have now updated that work and have been pleased to see huge progress.

We examined 85 distinct processes across 20 platforms and the NextWealth Digital Process Champions, AJ Bell Investcentre, Fidelity FundsNetwork, Standard Life Wrap and True Potential, require scans or wet signatures for fewer than 10% of their processes. This achievement deserves recognition.

As part of our work on document submission we are also pleased to recognise the game changers: platforms that made the biggest change to their signature requirements in the past six months. 7IM, AJ Bell Investcentre, Nucleus, Old Mutual Wealth, Standard Life Wrap and Transact have made great strides away from paper forms (be that a requirement for a wet signature or a scanned copy). AJ Bell has reduced the requirement for wet signatures from 35% of processes to 1%!

We think digital processing is an increasingly important criteria influencing platform selection. The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed those firms that are flexible and modern and differentiated them from the laggards that still rely on paper forms. I am impressed by the swift changes we’ve seen to digital processes this year. It has made a real difference to financial advisers, their teams and importantly their clients.

The chart below shows the percent of processes for which a wet signature, scanned form, eSignature or online journey are required.

About the Author

Heather is a data and research expert specialising in retail investment distribution. Heather is the Managing Director and Founder of NextWealth. She is also a Director of Clive Waller Consulting Ltd and serves as Vice-Chair of The Investment Network and the Schroders UK Platform Awards.