Tech innovation threatening dealer model

Dealer groups need to embrace new technology or risk losing more advisers, members of a financial services tech start-up network have warned.

At an AdviserInnovation roundtable in Sydney yesterday, AstuteWheel co-founder Michael Topper said many dealer groups still tightly control the products advisers can access, causing some to reconsider their options.

“Advisers then make a choice – 'Do I want to be tied or do I want to be independent?'” he said.

“Those that want to be independent go elsewhere.”

He suggested that “really switched-on organisations” offered advisers greater choice in products and services and allowed them to work with new technology platforms.

Adviser Intelligence director Jacqui Henderson suggested advisers from the larger groups in particular are expressing frustration with limited tech options. 

“I get a lot of AMP guys saying ‘Can you recommend another dealer group to me?’” she said.

“I don't think it's the cost, I think it's the flexibility and the choice and the support.”

Eddie Lees, founder of online document service NowSorted, said dealer groups were treating advisers with “arrogance” and pushing technology platforms that ignore advisers' needs.

“If an adviser feels as though they are being told what to do, and told what to do in an arrogant manner, they begin to rebel,” he said.

Meanwhile, AdviceConnect CEO Michael Giles warned dealer groups were failing to keep up with innovations that provide advisers with increased support.

However, some dealer groups have begun to recognise the threat and become more open to new tools, Innergi founder Rob Skinner suggested.

“As a dealer group, they're asking ‘What are we doing? We have all this compliance and support but all of these other businesses are happening. If we put up a wall to that, our advisers who want to be innovative, we're stifling them’,” he said.

My Financial Mentors adviser Martin Morris, a client of AstuteWheel and authorised rep of IOOF-owned group Consultim, also suggested dealer groups were becoming more flexible in a bid to differentiate themselves in the market.

“What is happening now is their lives are becoming harder than they used to be because they now have to get creative and help advisers look different to other advisers,” he said.

“The dealer groups are looking for something different, they are looking for innovation.”

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