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5 minutes with… Anthony Rafferty, Managing Director, Origo

11 November 2020

Origo has just announced it will be launching a Letter of Authority service, which digitises and automates the process for advice firms and providers. We spoke to Managing Director Anthony Rafferty about the service and what else the FinTech offers that can make paraplanners’ lives easier.

• What is Origo and what does it do within the industry?

Origo has been providing technology solutions to the pensions, investment and savings market for over 30 years now. Our remit is to find ways to create efficiencies which benefit the industry; improving operations, reducing costs and helping deliver better outcomes for consumers. We see our purpose as connecting the financial services market for the benefit of everyone.

One of our key roles is to bring industry participants together to work in collaboration on key projects. This can involve anything up to 30 different companies working to bring something useful and positive to the industry.

Unipass Identity, Origo Transfer Service, Origo Integration Hub and now the Unipass Letter of Authority service are all examples of industry solutions created through that collaborative process.

Origo has also been heavily involved in the Pensions Dashboard. We built the Pension Finder Service for the prototype dashboard, which is the digital service which takes an individual’s request to find their pensions and sends it to the industry’s pension providers to ascertain if they hold  a pension for that person and then sends the data back to the individual. Earlier this year we also launched Unipass Mailock, a military-grade encrypted email service.

It is this fundamental role that Origo plays in the industry and its ability to deliver better outcomes for providers, advisers and consumers, that attracted me to become its MD in 2018.

Unipass Letter of Authority is your latest launch. How does it work and what does it offer the industry and paraplanners in particular?

Unipass Letter of Authority (ULoA) is a major new service from Origo which we believe will really benefit the industry. We’ve been testing it over the last few months with several beta users and the feedback has been great. It has received considerable enthusiasm and support across the board.

Briefly, the service will enable financial advisers, paraplanners and administrators to enter in just one place all the information they need to establish the necessary authority for their client and then send it securely to all the relevant providers/platforms on the system.
The obvious and significant advantage is that the information will only need to be input once to reach all providers and platforms on the system and not individually for every provider or platform as happens currently.

By securely digitising the process, Unipass Letter of Authority enables advice firms to know where the Letter of Authority is in platforms’ and providers’ systems, so they can keep up-to-date with progress and keep the client informed, helping to improve their customer service.

We believe ULoA will create huge time benefits by doing away with the need for hours of laborious paperwork as well as cost savings by not having to wait on or pay for post.

And it’s not just adviser firms that will benefit. Providers and platforms will too, as it will create greater operational efficiencies, with the associated cost and time savings, as well as enabling them to deliver better service to advice firms and their clients.
Just as Origo has automated transfers and streamlined the industry’s integrations, we see Unipass Letter of Authority set to become the common, efficient method of submitting and managing Letters of Authority for advice firms, platforms and providers.
Everyone we have spoken to about the service say it is something that the industry has been crying out for.

We’re so confident that this will deliver major benefits for the industry – and we see paraplanners and administrators particularly benefitting in their day-to-day work – that we are making it free to use until July 2021. We’re encouraging advice firms, providers and platforms to sign up and experience first-hand how the service will work for them.

If paraplanners and administrators feel ULoA would help the industry move on from some archaic ways of working, please sign up to the service at [email protected] and flag it to the providers and platforms you work with.

What other services does Origo operate that can help make paraplanners lives easier?

The nature of our business means that a lot of what we do happens behind the scenes. So some of our greatest achievements are being used by thousands of people in the industry with many not knowing it is Origo that runs them. Unipass Letter of Authority aside, there are four other services that directly affect advice businesses and the paraplanner role.

The first is Unipass Identity, used by 8 out of 10 advisers, which provides one online identity that can be used with many platforms, systems and digital services – on any device.

Our longest running service is the Origo Transfer Service (which used to be known as Origo Options). This automates the transfer of contract-based pensions, as well as ISAs and GIAs, between providers. It was launched in 2008 and has helped reduce transfer times from some 50 working days at that time to an average of around seven calendar days or less pre Covid. That figure has risen slightly as a result of the Coronavirus crisis and the operational issues that created it, with simple transfers through Origo Transfers currently taking an average of 7.6 days and more complicated transfers an average of 10 days; but I stress these are calendar days. Since launch the service has transferred over £232bn.

Also working behind the scenes is the Origo Integration Hub. This was launched to make integration within the industry far simpler, more efficient and cheaper. Typically, industry integrations have been made on commercial basis between one company and another, where they each consider whether their businesses need the connection. Those kinds of point-to-point integrations are time consuming, demanding on resources and expensive to undertake. They also have to be kept up-to-date on an ongoing basis.

The Integration Hub sits in the middle of all companies and instead of having myriad integrations they only have to undertake one integration, to the Hub, in order to then connect with any other company on the Hub.

Currently, the Hub enables connections for valuation, bulk valuations, transfer tracking (for platforms/providers), account opening, remuneration and bulk transaction history. There is also a pipeline of new integrations being worked on as we speak.

Using a centralised system (a Hub) makes sense, as any company using it can link to any other on the system undertaking the same process, for example, taking valuations from one system to another to enable financial advice firms to undertake client reviews and suitability reports faster, more efficiently and more cost effectively.

It is good for the industry in other ways also, as it brings down barriers and creates a more even playing field for all sizes of company, no matter how deep their pockets, enabling the industry to become more efficient in the way it undertakes data sharing, as well as allowing new players into the market.

Fourth is Unipass Mailock. Cybercrime and digital fraud are rising in incidence and severity as highlighted by the significantly increased attention being given them by the regulators. Criminals are actively using technology to target unsecured emails and access sensitive and valuable information which they then use to commit crimes.

Unipass Mailock uses military-grade encryption and unique identity authentication capabilities so advice firms can read and send secure emails from desktop or mobile device with the assurance that they can only be opened by the intended recipient. From an audit perspective, advice firms can confirm when an identity verified client has opened the email and accessed attachments to help meet compliance requirements.

With all these services our aim is to offer a service that can benefit the industry as a whole. Hopefully, paraplanners will find they are benefitting from one or more of them in the job that they do and we are in fact helping to make their lives easier. It’s what we do.

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