Fintech start-up The Pension Lab is calling on the rest of the financial services industry to overhaul and standardise one of its biggest bugbears: the Letter of Authority.
Originated as a way of signing over legal permission to an advisor or planner to deal with a client’s personal affairs, the letters have become notorious for gumming up the plumbing of what should be a straightforward process.
With more tasks automated and online, painstaking efforts by advice and financial planning firms to build seamless digital networks and connections continue to be snarled up by thousands of Letters of Authority (LoA) in all their variety.
Which is why we are very much backing The Pension Lab’s effort to quantify the problem so it can focus on an effective and agreed format to simplify and streamline what ought to be a swift step forward, not a boot left stuck in the mud.
I think I speak for most financial planning and pension teams when I express surprise that this key instruction has yet to be fully standardised, templated and digitised to the point where it can be trusted, approved and activated in minutes and hours, rather than weeks or even months.
Even in 2024, corners of the financial services industry remain resolutely dust-covered but there’s no good reason for this particular instruction to have more in common with the era of Dickens rather than the digital age.
We applaud the strides some are making but by collecting data from as many advisers as possible as to the scale of the problem, we can more closely reflect its impact and kindle a consensus to create a contemporary solution.
Letters of Authority come in all shapes and sizes but the one thing they all have in common is they take too long to decipher, reply to and, well, authorise.
If you’re an adviser, take a couple of minutes to add your experience here. You’ll not only help the overall effort but generate a report on the impact the current, clunking LoA process has on your organisation.
We’re confident enough of us will take part in this exercise to give real authority to the push to overhaul this vestige of a bygone age for everyone’s benefit today and into the future.