Progress, friendly society Royal Liver’s e-business service for independent financial advisers, has evolved a multisourcing strategy to buy in the functionality it needs on a project-by-project basis.
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The latest system to be developed for the Progress extranet will soon allow independent financial advisers to put questions to a “virtual underwriter”. Advisers can view filmed responses from the underwriting team to common queries, with the aim of helping them submit a life cover application without additional intervention.
This is one of several tools commissioned by Progress from its IT providers since going live in October 2004.
Its list of strategic partners is headed by Vertex Financial Services, which provides the core administration processes for online new business, existing business, and claims management. Other partners include The Exchange portal, Unum and Base One.
“Progress was originally set up in less than a year with the help of our partners,” said Progress independent financial adviser marketing manager Andy Milburn.
“We undertook a detailed selection process for each element of the online business, from third-party administration to reinsurance and claims management, with the aim of finding the best partner in every instance.
“For the core contract, there were 33 providers who were pitching initially, but this was eventually whittled down to two, at which point our whole team visited the office of the remaining providers for a week apiece before coming to a decision.”
Milburn said the contracts that were subsequently drawn up with every partner meant they could be handled effectively by one member of staff at Progress, who is in continual contact with representatives of all the service providers.
“In every case, the contracts specify minimum service standards and we can fine our partners if they do not measure up,” said Milburn.
“The other benefit is that third-party administrators such as Vertex have a pool of staff to meet any demands we place on them, without us having to worry about a fixed staffing cost base.”