Larger advice firms and platforms are leading the charge when it comes to embracing digitalisation, giving them a “distinct advantage” over their smaller counterparts, new research from NextWealth has found.
Almost two thirds of advice firms with assets under administration of £250 million or more are using eSignatures, compared to just a third of smaller firms with less than £50m AUA. DocuSign was found to be the most popular software, with usage up from 23% to 27% in March 2021, closely followed by AdobeSign.
Heather Hopkins, managing director, NextWealth, commented: “We are seeing a marked difference in the types of firms that are actively moving to digital solutions for document signing, both within advice firms and the platforms. The larger firms are moving swiftly to invest in software that streamlines processes and significantly cuts the amount of time and effort it takes for clients to sign on the dotted line.”
According to NextWealth, 83% of platforms now accept eSignatures – up 45% in a year – and six of the nine largest platforms with more than £25 billion in assets now require the fewest forms.
Firms that require a paper form signed by a client for fewer than 10% of processes have almost doubled since October 2020, with AJ Bell Investcentre; Fidelity FundsNetwork; Fusion Wealth, PI Platform; Transact and True Potential hailed as ‘digital process champions’ by Next Wealth.
Hopkins said: “Our research shows that it’s wrong to think that the bigger platforms are digital laggards while newer firms are digital natives. Four of the biggest platforms by assets are among what we term as gamechangers – the firms that have made the biggest shift toward digitalisation over the past year.”
However, Hopkins said that while the progress was encouraging, NextWealth’s research also found that momentum is slowing, with the biggest shift happening from March to October 2020 as the UK adjusted to the Covid-19 restrictions.
Hopkins added: “It would be a real shame if progress in this area stalls as we come out of the crisis. Through our on-going research, we will continue to shine a light on those who are rising to the challenges and those who are not.”