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Providers need to get better at providing data access, says 7IM

January 10th, 2022 | In The Press

FT Adviser

Technology providers need to “get better” at allowing advisers and clients access their own data more freely, according to 7IM’s boss.

Verona Kenny told FTAdviser “it’s not just platforms”, dubbing the lack of access an issue “all providers” need to address.

A growing number of advisers are looking to feed investment platform data through their cash flow management tools, back-office systems and other reporting tools.

This allows them to deliver suitability and ongoing review reports without having to re-key the data, and also allows advisers to deliver more of their advice in a digital format.

But Kenny is concerned advisers are not getting the level of access they need at present.

“We, and when I say ‘we’ I mean us as an industry – and it’s not just platforms, it’s all providers – have to get better at allowing advisers and their clients access to their data,” said Kenny.

“Most platforms have had some form of, let’s call it, ‘data download’. But what’s moving on is the way we can do that with APIs [application programme interfaces] which quite frankly wasn’t around ten years ago. So technology is making it easier for us to do this.”

In some cases, this lack of flexibility offered by providers around data has seen some advice firms build their own operating systems in order to take ownership of the data.

Petronella West, chief executive of boutique wealth manager Investment Quorum, is one such example, taking inspiration from a San Francisco-based operating system called Notion.

Whilst West admitted last month the process has taken some time, the ability to plug in new softwares via an API to her firm’s own app meant it doesn’t need to rely on an end-to-end solution which it has no control over.

In an effort to make it easier for advisers to connect new and upcoming softwares with its platform, 7IM partnered with Finio Hub last month.

The deal sees 7IM send data to Finio Hub, which will then “shoot data off to different systems”, Kenny explained.

This will grow the list of 34 different systems which 7IM is currently connected to.

“We know it’s good to have a set of APIs which everyone wants to play ball with,” said Kenny.

In terms of digitisation Kenny believes 7IM has been a “leader” in the advised platform space.

“We’ve had our 7IMagine app for eight years now on the same technology with no migrations,” said the platform boss. “So it’s about enhancing the app as we enhance the features on the platform.

One area Kenny doesn’t think platforms have nailed in terms of features is retirement, despite pension freedoms happening back in 2015. “Personally, I thought it would have happened sooner.”

With clients living longer, advisers have to take into account sequencing risks, and the fact that all-time-low interest rates are unlikely to beat inflation.

Due to adviser demand, 7IM has added drip feed drawdown, as well as secured lifetime income products, and a retirement income service. But Kenny reckons there’s still far more platforms can do to adapt to the longer-life retirement landscape.

Source: FT Adviser