Openwork is to transform its advice process and governance framework as part of its three-year plan to prepare advisers for the Retail Distribution Review and to support the FSA’s focus on customer outcomes.
The project, Openwork’s first major initiative in its drive to ‘future proof’ the network and equip it to respond to supervisory and regulatory change, is designed to bring a number of significant benefits to the business and its 2,500-plus advisers. These include:
– A less proceduralised approach to the advice process
– A greater focus on Customer Outcomes, building on existing TCF initiatives
– A more mature, modern approach to compliance
– A greater emphasis on adviser judgments in the advice-giving process to support customer outcomes
The project, named the Customer Benefit Programme, will be rolled out in two phases. The first phase, commencing in mid-December and running for eight weeks, will see Openwork’s pensions and investments advisers – around 1,200 in total – participating in a comprehensive training and assessment programme designed to familiarise them with the new advice frameworks, process and related support material. This phase will incorporate changes to Openwork’s advice infrastructure – including the implementation of a modern systems and controls model within which advisers will deliver reliable customer outcomes – and a guide to the incoming enhanced advice framework, together with new tools to facilitate the changes.
Phase two, to begin early in 2010, will extend the programme and new advice framework to other areas of advice, including mortgages and protection.
Martin Davis, Openwork’s Chief Executive Officer, says the programme, devised in conjunction with advisers and the sales management team both in the design and pilot stages, is an important first step towards the network achieving its objective of becoming the top adviser services company in the UK.
Martin Davis said: “Customer Outcomes and the RDR are hugely significant regulatory developments and we are determined to ensure that Openwork sets the standard in preparing its advisers for the new environment.
“By putting the focus on the outcome for clients, our Customer Benefit Programme will enhance the quality of advice offered by our advisers and complement the standards they have already set in place. It will also help us to meet the challenges of an evolving supervisory regime and position our business as one of the few adviser services companies that will thrive in a post-RDR world.
“We are unique among networks in being able to institute such a major process upgrade across the board and the fact we have chosen to do so now is a signal of our intent to lead the way in tackling regulatory change.”