Origo – what are we working for?

Written by Anthony Rafferty, Managing Director, Origo

The other day a member of the team wrote this in an email to us all: “It’s so exciting how highly anticipated this service is – we’re really doing the right thing for people in the industry.”

She was referring to a brand new service Origo had launched in the financial services (pensions, investment and savings) market, with which we had set out to tackle one of the most frustrating issues for the administrators, paraplanners (think para-legals for the financial planning market), financial advisers as well as the product providers and platforms in our industry. This is conveying the authorisation required from the client of the financial advice firms by the providers and platforms, stating that they are authorising the advice firm to act on and transact on their behalf; termed the Letter of Authority (LoA).

On the face of it you’d expect this to be a simple process and hardly an issue for an industry that transact billions of pounds every year. Right?

The actual situation is this: A myriad range of requirements and different pieces of information being required by providers and platforms; paper-based systems; pieces of paper having to be posted or faxed(!) to every individual provider/platform; no way of tracking the process, so no way of knowing if it is being dealt with or how long it will take. You can imagine the resource and cost implications all along the process chain.

Here’s a quote from someone on the front line:

“We offer an outsourced administration support, alongside our paraplanning services, and our administrators spend a lot of time finding out how a provider wants to receive the LoA (not everyone accepts emails and some still insist on seeing the wet signature, and these requirements seem to vary all the time), making sure the LoA actually got to the team which is supposed to be dealing with it and establishing current turnaround times, and finally chasing for information, often spending hours on hold each week only to be told there’s currently a backlog. Providers must also spend a lot of time answering these calls.”*

If you want to read further of the frustrations this is causing those dealing with this administrative burden, read this article on LinkedIn [ https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sending-letters-authority-2020-debbie-condon/ ].

It’s written by Debbie Condon, founder of Intuitive Support Services, an outsourced administration firm for this market. She tells how she has had to put together a spreadsheet of 100 companies (there are many more in the industry) for her team of administrators laying out what each company needs and in what format and to which department the information should go. Needless to say, we asked Debbie to be one of the testers for our new service.

Hopefully, this gives a flavour of the issues and frustrations being experienced.

So, how have we tackled this. First, we did one of the things we do best, having identified the issue, we brought together a range of different industry participants to ascertain what they would need to create a common, efficient digital process that would meet the requirements of the industry and they would all be happy using.

From these working groups we developed the Unipass Letter of Authority service. Unipass is one of our brands – 8 in 10 financial advisers use Unipass Identity for example to safely connect to the websites of the various providers and platforms they use on a daily basis.

In a nutshell, Unipass Letter of Authority enables the person in the financial advice firm to enter all the client’s details in a common format and for that information to be sent to all providers and platforms on the system. No laborious form filling for the advice firm and no postage cost.

Also, by securely digitising the process, Unipass Letter of Authority enables advice firms to know where they are in the onboarding process, so they can keep up-to-date with progress and keep the client informed, helping to improve their customer service.

This is a service that the industry tells us it has been crying out for and we are delighted to have been able to work collaboratively with participants in developing it. To accelerate the use of the service and the benefits it can bring to the industry, we are making it free to use until July 2021, allowing advice firms, providers and platforms to experience first-hand how the service will work for them.

I’m going to end with a quote from Debbie Condon: “What we need is for providers to sign up to this system as soon as possible. The more companies that are on board, the faster, easier and cheaper this process will become for the industry and the better the quality of service adviser businesses will be able to give to their clients.”*

Having this kind of impact on the efficiencies and for the people in our industry is what inspires everyone at Origo to be the best they can be in their jobs. The new Unipass Letter of Authority is just one of several innovative services we provide for our part of the industry and I am extremely proud of what we do as a FinTech to help address these issues.

An Edinburgh company doing its best to change the industry for the better.

Unipass Letter of Authority launches on 23 November 2020.


* Quotes from articles published by Professional Paraplanner magazine.