Advisor Portals: Challenges and Opportunities – Q & A with Rick Hyde

Over the past 10-15 years, web-based portals have emerged as a central strategy for financial product manufacturers to provide client data and product information to the advisors that sell and service their products.

However, portal sites developed by individual product manufacturers haven’t proven to be the most effective engagement strategy for advisors and product distributors.

I sat down with Ticoon CEO, Rick Hyde, to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing product manufacturers.

Jay Palter: What is the main challenge that product manufacturers face with their existing portal sites?

Rick Hyde: In a nutshell, low adoption rates among advisors. Product manufacturers are spending considerable dollars to build, maintain and host their portal sites. The main reason why adoption rates are so low is that these portal sites do not address the realities of most advisors.

The vast majority of advisors in Canada operate independently and sell products and services from multiple product manufacturers across multiple jurisdictional and regulatory boundaries.

In order to access information, documents and data on their clients, these advisors are faced with two less than ideal options: i) Visit multiple product manufacturer portals websites using maintain multiple usernames and passwords to access their clients’ data; or ii) Receive information from multiple product manufacturers (via email or data downloads) and store this information on their local systems to ensure they always have the latest and most current data.

Either way, this is a lot of extra time and effort for advisors and fails to address one of the main criteria for advisor adoption – ease of use.

JP: Are you saying product manufacturers should abandon their advisor portals?

RH: No, I’m saying build out your own portal and create a best-in-class solution that supports your brand, but also make it easier to do business with your firm. Get out there and meet your advisors on their own turf.

Creating fancy portal websites and cool marketing microsites that require you to pull in advisors is not enough. Product manufacturers need to make their product information and client data easily accessible by the advisors who sell their products and the consumers that purchase them.

The model has changed, especially when it comes to independent advisors.  A great parallel would be the change in the product manufacturer’s distribution model over the last few years. In the past, product manufacturers relied on wholesalers for distribution of their products – wholesalers would work with dealers and advisors to promote products.  Now, many product manufacturers are focused on getting their products onto platforms for distribution, such as various types of structured product packages.

Ticoon has created a single ‘platform’ or ecosystem for independent advisors (and their clients) to access their data and product manufacturers’ information.

JP: How does Ticoon’s platform or ecosystem address the challenge of advisor adoption and other main drivers of product manufacturer portal sites?

RH: Ticoon’s industry-wide portal offers advisors a single website, username and password. This makes it easy and convenient for advisors to use. Once on the site, advisors (and clients, through an optional client-facing portal) can access in-force policy and investment holdings data, as well as information on products and features from multiple manufacturers. Ticoon’s solution can host product manufacturer content as well or provide a link through to the product manufacturer website.  In a sense, the product manufacturer is coming to the advisor, rather than forcing the advisor to come to them.  This strategy sometimes flies in the face of the marketing department but with adoption rates of 2% to 5% something needs to change.

One of the biggest drivers for creation of a portal is secure electronic document delivery.  Since advisor adoption rates on individual product manufacturer portals has been so low, this has translated into low uptake on document e-delivery. An industry-wide portal solution that captures data and documents from multiple product manufacturers will increase adoption rates and create positive return on investment from secure electronic document delivery implementations.

JP: How can outsourcing to Ticoon save a product manufacturer money?

RH: Technological change is getting faster all the time – faster than many companies have the expertise to handle. Even if your IT department has the know-how, vision and budget to build the ultimate advisor portal, how long will it be before your company has to redesign, refresh, or upgrade?

Ticoon’s single, platform distributes the cost of developing and maintaining state-of-the-art technology across multiple product manufacturers, freeing up resources for companies to focus on product development and marketing. This platform gives advisors access to all the manufacturers whose products they sell, all in one place. Product manufacturers, in turn, get access to advisor data that can help them to increase their visibility with advisors not yet selling their products.

Working with Ticoon’s platform doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Ticoon’s platform can run in parallel with existing portals, depending on an organization’s requirements. Product manufacturers save money, increase visibility, and make it easier for advisors to do business with them – all by outsourcing or augmenting their advisor portal.

Click here for more information about the Ticoon Pulse platform.