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Financial needs analysis systems empower advisers

01 August 2007 Astute

Financial advisers with the necessary skills have found that Financial Needs Analysis (FNA) systems help ensure compliance while also contributing significantly to practice efficiency.

Thats according to Helena du Plessis, National Training and FNA Manager at Astute, the financial services exchange: "On the other hand, intermediaries who don't use FNA systems when undertaking financial planning for their clients significantly increase their compliance risk and the chances of providing less-than-optimal advice."

FNA systems are used by advisers when developing personal financial plans for their clients. Many of these programmes draw on the Astute portal to access and integrate data from different product providers across the financial services industry.

In practical terms, this means that for clients with policies from several different companies, intermediaries are able to seamlessly and simultaneously download the required, standardised information in a matter of minutes.

Advisers, with the necessary client consent, are able to draw information that helps determine existing financial provision before undertaking financial needs analysis to ascertain shortfalls in the clients portfolio. Because the process is automated, adviser and client benefit from time and money saved, as well as enhanced accuracy. Once data has been downloaded onto the FNA system, advisers can print policy schedules and save the data for future use in managing the clients portfolio.

To ensure that intermediaries are supplied with the correct information, incoming data from product providers like life assurance companies is mapped and standardised. When joining the Astute platform, the data from new companies is tested before becoming available on-line.

As an added benefit, many FNA systems will pre-populate the clients personal information saving additional time for the Adviser.
 
Helena commented that: "Besides huge time-saving benefits, accessing Astute through one of the available FNA systems facilitates integration of accurate information with the analysis process.

"Advisers who use FNA systems find it easier to comply with various laws including the Financial Advisory Intermediary Services Act (FAIS). FNA systems track the financial advisory process and assist with proper record-keeping, which is a requirement for compliance."

Some 40% of all transactions conducted through Astute are currently requested via FNA systems. This is increasing, indicating that users are increasingly attuned to the benefits that the Astute and FNA combination is capably of providing.

Durban-based Certified Financial Planner, Steve Tearnan commented: Ive been using Astute since its inception in 2000 and believe that no financial planning practice should be without the service.

"I have found the information received via Astute to be accurate and reliable and have now incorporated the Profida practice management software into my business. This allows me to quickly download a client's information directly from Astute into Profida, before printing out a portfolio."

New FNA systems are required to be tested and certified by Astute before integrating with the platform. To date, the following systems have been certified: Spotlight, New BluePrint, S.Net, Pathfinder, Solutions+, Profida, Insuria, atWork and Proplanner.

For intermediaries with a fear of technology, Helena says Astute offers free training on the Astute component within certified FNA systems. 

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The second draft amendments to Regulation 28 will allow retirement funds to allocate up to 45% of their assets to SA infrastructure, with a further 10% for rest of Africa; but the equity & offshore caps remain unchanged. What are your thoughts on the proposal?

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