Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Online face-to-face advice moves closer

Five years ago, the Society of Financial Advisers asked delegates at its annual conference what they would like to be able to do with technology in five years time.

One of the key responses at that time was ‘face-to-face advice online’ and now advisers say the prospect is one step closer, where the client is happy to talk finance over the internet, and intermediaries feel they would now be willing to conduct free video conferencing with clients online.


Campbell Edgar, director at Bloomsbury Financial Planning, notes with the aid of voice over internet protocol (VoiP) services such as Skype, it is already possible to conduct face-to-face advice with clients through web video conferencing, albeit the service might not suit all clients.
“Doing advice online needs to have a very clear business model, to ensure it is both technology and business effective,” says Edgar.
“We could do it today with Skype and a webcam and we do advice today with telephone-based clients. There is little difference, but we feel it’s a bit impersonal and we probably wouldn’t consider it unless the business was conducted in another guise,” he adds.


In contrast, however, firms like
Informed Choice are beginning to embrace the prospect of online ‘face to face’ advice, and adopting new technology to support the service.

Martin Bamford, director at the IFA firm, is already known for his wider use of technology to reach the consumer, having created the UK’s first financial adviser firm podcasts.
He believes while the ability to conduct online video conferencing through services such as Skype is pretty much a given, services aimed at financial advisers still need a little more work to provider the all-round service online clients might be looking for.

Source: Julie Henderson - IFAonline

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