intelliflo scooped the Professional Paraplanner Best Back-Office System award for the fourth time this year. We spoke to CEO Nick Eatock about the effect of the C-19 pandemic, how intelliflo has developed in the past year and the award win
To all intents and purposes, as a company delivering its services online, it was business as usual when the pandemic struck in early 2020, says intelliflo CEO Nick Eatock. There were two major exceptions; usage of the system by advice firms increased around 60% and usage of the intelliflo personal finance portal increased 300%.
“We saw users discovering and using areas of the system that they never had before. Working virtually and having to think about how they operated and how technology could help them do that better during the pandemic, advice firms and individuals were actively seeking out new ways of working and improving their service to clients,” Nick says.
“The use of the portal also was remarkably high, as consumers increased their use of digital services. Now, one in 200 UK adults uses the intelliflo personal finance portal, which is a great expression of how the end client is engaging with the services of their financial advice digitally.
“Before the pandemic I think the jury was out with a proportion of advice firms about using digital within their businesses. What happened in the pandemic was that those firms got great responses from their clients, who were able to access their adviser and information posted about their portfolios/plans in real time despite everywhere being in lockdown. Realistically, there’s no going back from there.”
It’s the alignment of intelliflo’s purpose with that of paraplanners to which Nick attributes the company’s year-on-year success at the Professional Paraplanner awards. “We’re both focussed on helping the advice firm to deliver an outcome in the best way possible for the benefit of consumers.
“Paraplanners are both advice technical and IT technical, which is why they are important to us as a business. They often are the ones making most use of our system, exploring what it can do and pushing it to do more. Many paraplanners are part of our community portal and provide good ideas for enhancements.”
intelliflo regularly updates its service – introducing an enhancement or change once every three days, Nick says – a large proportion of which are put forward by users, via the community portal. “Through the intelliflo personal finance portal they can raise ideas which can then be rated and voted on in terms of importance by the community. This gives our users a voice in what needs to be changed, improved or added to, which we take into our development programme. The business has grown significantly over the past 18 months, so now we have a lot more engineering effort behind us that is pushing the products much faster than ever before.”
Recent and upcoming developments
During the past year, developments useful to paraplanners have included work on the software’s document designer, “adding a lot of capability to help in the production of advice documentation, including suitability reports,” Nick explains. “It takes out the pain of re-keying, double keying and formatting, and so on, to speed things up and give paraplanners and advisers more time to deal with the advice.
“Also, we’ve made enhancements to the fact find on the intelliflo personal finance portal to make completing it easier, which has seen an uplift in the frequency with which clients are contributing the information. We’ve also enhanced the communication between adviser and client, improving secure messaging, and putting in message trails while giving more people access to contribute to the trail, which has proved very effective.
In addition, we’ve introduced open banking, which enables advisers to draw in information on more than just the client’s advised assets, to give a better and more holistic view of the client’s wealth. Our third-party integrations also have grown significantly, largely through our Developer Hub and our open API, which means that tools paraplanners use which complement what we do can be more easily integrated with our services.”
In the pipeline, he says, are a new Management Information capability which is being launched in conjunction with Amazon.
On winning the Professional Paraplanner award, Nick says: “We’re delighted. We take our role of helping advice businesses become more effective and efficient and to deliver more advice very seriously, so when the people who are right at the core of providing that service vote for us that’s very humbling.”
This article was first published in the September 2021 issue of Professional Paraplanner.