Risk-profile software will help prevent mis-selling

Financial advisers will be ableto do psychometric-style profiling of customer expectations using a new software package launched...

Financial advisers will be able to do psychometric-style profiling of customer expectations using a new software package launched this week in an attempt to help prevent product mis-selling.

The product, Adviser Office 2 from 1st Software, includes a "risk-profiler" feature to help IFAs assess a client's appetite for risk and measures this against their expectation of a return on investment before recommending a suitable investment portfolio.

With fierce competition in the financial intermediary market, through which the majority of products are sold, IFAs are under pressure to reduce costs and ensure products are tailored more closely to customers' needs.

In the wake of recent financial mis-selling scandals at firms such as Equitable Life, many IFAs are struggling to secure professional indemnity insurance to protect firms against having to pay hefty legal costs in the event of a dispute with a customer.

"The Client Investment Risk Profiler should help to reduce the risks financial advisers take," said Rory Cullan, managing director of 1st Software, whose products are used by 40% of the larger IFA firms. "For the first time we have bought psychometric profiling onto the market," he said.

The other main problem faced by IFAs is the need to remember multiple passwords when doing online business with product providers. Research suggests a typical independent financial adviser has to access more than 10 different financial extranets every day, each with its own log-on and password.

One alternative is digital certificates, which can verify an adviser's identity, removing the need to remember passwords.

A digital certificate service for the life assurance and pensions industry is making steady progress, and earlier this year it signed-up its 1,000th customer.

The Unipass digital certificate service, developed by industry standards body Origo, is now being rolled out to all of the UK's financial advisers following its launch last September.

More than 1,000 individual customers and six financial services providers, including Standard Life, Norwich Union and Friends Provident, are now using the service, and a further 13 financial services firms plan to implement it during 2003.

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