Software integration momentum gains speed

IRESS executive product manager Aaron Knowles.


By Julie May

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Greater importance is being placed on financial planning software and technology integration across the industry as regulatory distractions subside, a senior software executive has said.

“Over the last six months software integration has really come to the forefront as regulatory distractions over the last few years has lessened,” IRESS executive product manager Aaron Knowles told financialobserver.

“People became withdrawn and insular amid the Future of Financial Advice reforms, but I think we’ve really seen a change as people now seem to have more headspace to think about integration and ways they can adapt.”

Knowles said far greater importance was being placed on integrating software and technology to improve the delivery of financial advice from start to end.

He said Xplan, which is owned by IRESS and which more than 50 per cent of advisers use, integrated with a number of product manufacturer data feeds, scanning solutions, credit card and payment gateways and various self-managed super fund software providers.

“We are always looking at greater integration and integration across a broader spectrum,” he said.

“We do four software releases per year and each release used to contain one strategic integration project. Now we are averaging three per quarter.

“In the current environment, integrating with critical business tools is a key factor and we’re going to see more of that happening throughout the financial services industry, particularly anywhere that adds value to the advice chain.”

He said expectations around financial planning software integration were changing and were significant, particularly as a consequence of software and technology making people’s lives more efficient in other ways.

He pointed to research done by Investment Trends that showed through several different reports that improvements in integration were a major factor for advisers on many fronts.

“Advisers want to see better integration between product manufacturers, platforms, administrators and advice software providers,” he said.

“Momentum is building and everyone is listening to what advisers are saying.”

He added greater software integration between the mortgage, accountant and financial planning industries was also gaining further traction.

“Other major areas of interest to advisers when it comes to software and technology are rules-based alerts and compliance notifications, and enabling systems and programs to be run on different forms of technology so that there is greater diversification in how advice can be delivered,” he said.

“We’re also looking at ways advisers can more easily use software when they are delivering holistic advice, scaled advice and advice where there are self-led investor scenarios.”

He said he expected an increasing number of technology providers to enter the financial services space in the future.

“It’s cheaper now than ever to create and build software, although I expect that more software will be built in discrete areas rather than new competitors to Xplan coming to market as it’s a huge technology solution that works across the board,” he said.

He added Xplan was in constant discussions with other providers around ways they could integrate and activity in that space would only increase in the future.

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