New Letter of Authority service could be a ‘game changer’

3 November 2020

Origo is to launch Unipass Letter of Authority (ULoA) at the end of November, a service aimed at simplifying and streamlining the current Letter of Authority process, an innovation described as a possible “game changer” for paraplanners and administrators in the industry, currently dealing with a myriad of differing provider requirements and procedures.

The new service from the FinTech will enable financial advisers to input in one place all the information they need to establish the necessary authorities and send it securely to all the relevant providers/platforms on the system – rather than individually dealing with every provider or platform as happens currently.

Paraplanners and administrators say this will be a significant improvement on the laborious paperwork and ad hoc processes with which they currently have to contend.

The advantages for providers and platforms, Origo says, will be a better service delivered to advice firms and their clients, as well as greater operational efficiencies and the associated cost and time savings.

Anthony Rafferty, managing director Origo (pictured), says: “Similar to Origo’s success in automating transfers and streamlining the industry’s integrations, Unipass Letter of Authority is set to become the common, efficient method of submitting and managing Letters of Authority for advice firms, platforms and providers.

“At the moment there is no means for advice firms to know where the Letter of Authority is in platforms’ and providers’ systems. By securely digitising the process, Unipass Letter of Authority enables advice firms to know where they are in the onboarding process, so they can keep up-to-date with progress and keep the client informed, helping to improve their customer service.

The new service was tested with a group of users over several months. “Not unexpectedly, it has received considerable enthusiasm and support across the board,” Rafferty adds.

“This is a service that the industry has been crying out for and we are delighted to have been able to work with the industry in developing it. To accelerate the use of the service and the benefits it can bring to the industry, we are making it free to use until July 2021, allowing advice firms, providers and platforms to experience first-hand how the service will work for them.”

One of the beta testers, Mark Ormston, IT and Administration manager at Retirement Line, said his company sends thousands of LoAs every year, “the ULoA service will be a godsend for both customers and ourselves.”

“Using this service will provide us with greater confidence that our LoA and information request has been immediately received by the correct servicing department. More than this, as our request for information will be made electronically using an agreed standard, the service provider will be able to supply us with the desired information quicker than ever before.”

Kim Bendall, director, Go Paraplanning said the service is “one our industry could have done with a long time ago.

“If it works the way it should, and all providers are able to accept digitised authority letters, then the whole advice process could run quicker and more efficiently.

“For administrators in particular, this could be a real game-changer. I really hope that it’s as successful as it ought to be, as we can all benefit from this.”

Debbie Condon, founder, Intuitive Support Services, who has seen a demonstration of the service, said while on the surface, the current Letter of Authority process should be both simple and fast, “in reality it is cumbersome and slow.

“This kind of innovation is eagerly awaited and will be hugely welcomed by many I am sure. It will be a huge step forward from where we are currently.”

Swift take up by providers and platforms was essential she added. “What we need is for providers to sign up to this system as soon as possible. The more companies on board the faster, easier and cheaper, this process will become for the industry and the better the quality of service adviser businesses will be able to give their clients.”

Aleks Sasin, founder of outsourced paraplanning firm Navigatus, said that the firm’s outsourced administration support that sits alongside its paraplanning services, first has to find out how a provider wants to receive the LOA  – “not everyone accepts emails and some still insist on seeing the wet signature, and these requirements seem to vary all the time” – and will often “spend hours on hold each week” chasing information.

She said: “If the process could be centralised and the progress of all LOAs reported conveniently in one place which would allow our team to quickly update the adviser, the client and the paraplanner ready to work on the case, that would be absolutely fantastic.

However, she added: “I would like to know if all providers will sign up to this service; will those providers who currently still require a wet signature change their processes in response or will they sit outside the service?”

Origo said development and testing of the service completed ready. for onboarding of providers from Monday 23 November. The service will be rolled out in managed stages, beginning with Letters of Authority for pensions business and then extended to other areas of business.

Pension providers, administrators, advice firms and platforms wanting to sign up for Unipass Letter of Authority should contact:  [email protected]

Professional Paraplanner