Bigger role for advisers as Friends broadens eSelect

Friends Provident is developing its eSelect electronic underwriting system to allow financial advisers to access and alter newly created insurance policies.

Friends Provident is developing its eSelect electronic underwriting system to allow financial advisers to access and alter newly created insurance policies.

The life and pensions company said such a move would be an industry first, blurring the systems distinction that exists in life companies between the application process - to which advisers increasingly have access via web-based underwriting engines - and life companies' policy management systems.

Dave Mace, head of e-business at Friends Provident, said the company was re-engineering its end-to-end processes for new business to give more control to advisers and remove a layer of administration.

"With protection and other life products, the application process will typically take some time because the contents of an application are often slow to 'settle down' before being underwritten," said Mace.

"But with the current systems architecture, changes made later cannot be input by advisers even if they are able to track the progress of applications. Our new approach will change all that and hand more control to the advisers."

Friends Provident is project managing the development of the system's web-based front-end in-house with the help of some outside contractors.

Among other development work, a rules engine is being created that will trigger a full underwriting review when advisers make major changes to policies on the system. This should limit the scope for any misuse by advisers of their extended access rights.

Friends Provident has been using its eSelect system in earnest for two years, and it now accounts for about 80% of all new protection-product business being put through by intermediaries. The system uses an interactive underwriting engine that means almost 50% of transactions are paper-free and require no manual intervention by Friends Provident, reducing processing times.

The life company's core back-end systems rely on mainframes running mainly IBM DB2 databases.




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