5 minutes with… Ross Laurie, CEO, Visible Capital

29 March 2021

Visible Capital provides a service which, with client consent, can collate and categorise clients’ bank and wealth data, automatically populating fact finds and giving advice firms far richer and more comprehensive data on their clients’ finances when assessing suitability  Alongside being more convenient and time efficient for clients, the Visible Capital service can better enable advice firms to help clients achieve their financial and long term wealth goals.

The firm falls under the umbrella of open banking/open finance services, which are opening up new opportunities for financial firms, as consumers become ever more comfortable with digital finance and enabling access to data where it benefits them.

To find out more, Professional Paraplanner asked chief executive Ross Laurie to explain the service in more detail.

PP: What’s the background and raison d’être of Visible Capital?

Laurie: Visible Capital was launched to the market in early 2020 to provide complementary technology to the financial advice/planning market. Our aim is to help financial advisers, wealth managers and pension providers automatically unlock greater value in their business through intelligent use of data.

There is clear room and need for advice firms to improve their processes when collecting customer data. Doing so can make life easier for those within advice firms collecting and collating the data – advisers, paraplanners and administrators – it can improve efficiencies and save money for the firm, and it can enhance the digital experience in line with customers’ new and higher expectations, like they’re used to in every other area of their life.

In setting up Visible Capital our aims were to:

  • eliminate the manual processes that are still involved in client data collection,
  • create an enhanced digital experience for our users and their clients
  • contribute to enhancing the quality of financial advice
  • unlock value for our clients through data insight
  • maximise the value of data; and
  • champion a vibrant financial advice market
  • become the complementary data partner of choice for advice firms.

The Covid -19 pandemic has accelerated use of digital services many fold, not only in terms of how businesses operate but also how comfortable consumers feel about using digital and online services in their day-to-day lives. We believe this will play through into the financial advice market with financial planning firms providing ever increasing levels of digital experience as part of their service offering.

In 2020 Visible Capital was recognised as one of the Top 100 WealthTech companies, for innovative use of technology to solve a significant industry problem or generate cost savings or efficiency improvements across the investment value chain.

PP: What is the service Visible Capital is providing in the context of open banking?

With respect to Open Banking specifically, Visible Capital has technology and FCA authorisation that enables us to access a client’s bank account/s with their consent, and automate the collation and categorisation of bank transaction and credit card data, then populate the advice firm’s software of choice in a matter of minutes. In summary, we use Open Banking to deliver an automated enriched Income and Expenditure report.

PP: In your literature, you describe the process in terms of a fact find and ongoing suitability assessment. What information can/does the service obtain from the client?

Our goal is to digitise the entire fact find. Using a system of data connections to open banking, pensions data, savings and investments data and healthcare policies, Visible Capital’s technology allows customers to provide their financial adviser with a large amount of rich data. This in turn allows their financial adviser to present them with a highly informed and personalised wealth management advice.

Currently, the data we can draw down and make available to advice firms include:

  • Open Saving and Investments
  • Insurances
  • Health cover/plans
  • Attitude to risk
  • Wills
  • As well as additional data (such as zoopla for property valuations) that can help build a full picture of financial health.

PP: What’s the step-by-step process of the service?

As you might expect, our aim is to make the process as automated and easy-to-use as possible for both the advice firm and their clients. It’s as simple as the following:

  • Paraplanner registration
  • Connection to back-office system (optional)
  • Adding a client
  • Send client invite
  • Wait for confirmation the client has completed the process; and
  • Review and download the report.

From the paraplanner’s point of view the whole process can take a matter of minutes.

PP: How is the data presented and what insights can it provide into a client’s situation?

Holistic financial planning needs accurate and up-to-date information that advisers and paraplanners can use to assess the client’s situation and make recommendations, based on the client’s goals.

Our processes provide fast, simple and secure onboarding and suitability solutions that seamlessly plug into advisers’ technology.

Our objective is to achieve straight through processing from the data source directly to the back-office software.

Clients’ data then can be viewed within the back-office, output in various reporting formats, or viewed on screen within the Visible Capital platform.

The advisers and paraplanners benefit from a far better perspective of their client’s financial life as well as insights into their situation, including their existing financial products, their income and expenditure, current assets, and current spending habits, to name a few.

PP: What options are available for presenting the data to clients?

When a client completes our process they have the option to review the highly detailed financial data insight within our platform or they have the ability to download the report.

Our portal includes a customisable feature allowing users to create branded reports with a logo, colour scheme, title and much more. It’s a great way to share insights with clients while staying consistent to the advice firm’s brand image and visual identity.

PP: Clients and advice firms will need to trust the service so what security is in place?

We take security very seriously at Visible Capital, and are committed to the protection of client data. Visible Capital is ISO27001 accredited. This audited process confirms that the company adheres to information security best practices, and meets the criteria for the highest internationally recognised standard of data security.

ISO 27001 is a specification for an information security standard management system (ISMS). An ISMS is a framework of policies and procedures that includes all legal, physical and technical controls involved in an organisation’s information risk management processes. ISO 27001 was developed to provide a model for establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining and improving security management systems.

Visible Capital’s security program supports the protection of client information in a variety of ways, including:

› Information Security Management

› Security Architecture

› Security Administration

› Data Protection (GDPR)

› Data/Media deletion, Destruction and Disposal

› Encryption

› Security Awareness and Training

› Network, Operating System, and

› Data Backup and Retention.

PP: With which back-office/software systems is the service integrated?

We are currently integrated into a number of adviser’s technologies including; Origo Unipass, Iress, Intelliflo, Cashcalc, Salesforce and OIH. We have a number of other integrations in development at the moment and are open to integrating to others as we recognise the importance of integrations, and the requirement to share data within the advice ecosystem.

We also have an Open API that enables us to easily integrate into bespoke back-office systems.

PP: How can paraplanners use the service if they don’t use one of these systems?

Whilst our platform integrates with multiple back-office it can be used independently of these systems.

The reporting capabilities within our product are comprehensive and enable paraplanners to extract client finance reports in multiple different formats including PDF and formatted text files.

PP: In summary, how can Visible Capital make paraplanners’ lives easier?

We have developed an enabling (or complementary) technology that provides time saving efficiencies to paraplanners through the automation of data collation, administration and client reporting, and reducing re-keying, enabling paraplanners to contribute to much larger proportion of the advice process.

Wealth management is at the start of radical transformation that will see successful firms adopt a range of secure technology solutions to drive change and to give their clients the kind of service they are now receiving from their banks and increasing are expecting of the other financial institutions they use – particularly their financial planning firm.

To that end, Visible Capital offers a hassle-free, collaborative approach, able to demonstrate and quantify how advice firms can unlock value and drive profitability.

Professional Paraplanner