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Platforms e-signature functionality nearly doubled since April

30 November 2020

The number of platforms helping advisers to service their clients remotely with an e-signature functionality has nearly doubled since April, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research from NextWealth showed that 14 out of 20 platforms now accept e-signatures, up from 9 in April.

According to the findings, AJ Bell Investcentre, Fidelity FundsNetwork, Standard Life Wrap and True Potential are leading the way by digitally enabling 90% of their document submission processes, with NextWealth naming them as “Digital Process Champions.”

Heather Hopkins, managing director, NextWealth, said: “Crisis breeds innovation and the Covid-19 pandemic is no exception. Platforms have made huge progress in making life easier for financial advisers and their clients, allowing firms to conduct business online.

“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.”

Billy Mackay, marketing director, AJ Bell, commented: “We are always looking at how we can improve our platform and processes to make it easier for advisers and their clients to use AJ Bell Investcentre. The Covid crisis accelerated some of that work, particularly around the acceptance of scanned forms and digital signatures.

“Advisers can now send virtually all documents to us electronically and we know this is something they have really appreciated during a time when they have had to adapt their own business processes. The changes we have made in this area are permanent so that is definitely at least one positive development to come out of this very difficult year.”

Noel Butwell, chief executive, Standard Life, added: “We are committed to continually improving operational efficiencies on our journey to deliver an effortless experience for our clients and customers. Digital enablement has been a key theme throughout the pandemic and businesses have adapted to offer smarter processes and an enhanced customer experience.

“Digital signature acceptance is only one function out of a list of smarter enhancements we plan to make over the next 18 months. We hope this reassures advisers that we have listened and understood what their business and clients need most from us and that we are prepared to make the investment required to support them in what has been a challenging year.”

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