While the lead industry story this week may have been Scottish Widows acquisition of Embark, there was also big news coming out of Australia yesterday when it was announced that Iress have received a bid from a private equity firm which they do not believe represents full value for the business. I’m inclined to agree, Iress was one of the first advice tech businesses to transform itself from regional to a global player. They have strong propositions in wealth, protection and mortgages for both manufacture and distribution. They also benefit from a strong and stable management team. The company made a series of announcements on Thursday and these can be found here.

I don’t see this being the end of the story. While in other sectors of the market valuations may currently look very full, we are on the cusp of an unparalleled expansion of the advice market which can only be achieved through the use of exactly the sort of technology Iress create.

Currently the financial advice community really only serves about 3% of the population, 5% at best, because financial advice has become a highly regulated industry with demanding professional standards. Rightly highly qualified advisers command significant salaries but this means that the vast majority of consumers simply can’t afford traditional advice. The FCA, probably as much as any other regulator around the world, has long seen technology as the solution.

While so-called robo advisors, who in practice invariably don’t actually use any robots or provide any real regulated advice, have been the Model T Ford of automated financial advice new solutions are emerging. Established advice tech suppliers who already have the tools to support professional advisers are extremely well placed to repurpose these to create advice automation.

It’s our belief that any advice firm that still intends to be trading in five years’ time should now be looking at how they complement their traditional model with a hybrid advice solution using humans to deliver advice backed by automation at a fraction of the current cost. This will not conflict with their existing customers and propositions, but complement them.

Through such a process we fully expect to see financial advice becoming affordable and accessible to tens of millions of people over the next decade who are currently excluded from such services. This can only be achieved through the use of the right technology which is why there is so much private equity interest in firms like Iress and other scale technology supplies.

We have had a very busy week on advisersoftware.com looking at many of the most established Adviser Tech Supplier in the market starting on Monday with Selectapension’s retirement planner and switching analysis tools.

On Tuesday it was the turn of Morningstar where we explored their client portal, cash flow planning, adviser workstation portfolio analysis, model marketplace portfolio analysis and portfolio rebalancing software.

Wednesday’s insight highlighted 7IM and their fabulous 7Imagine financial planning tool. When it comes to outstanding user interfaces, this is the app to beat. It’s not just better than anything else I have seen in the UK, but as good as anything else I’ve seen anywhere in the world. A great lesson to all of us in what can be achieved if you really put the customer at the heart of your thought process.

On Thursday Adam examined the functionality behind 360 Dotnet’s practice management system and client portal.

We ended the week with a look at a less well-known solution Pocket Risk’s risk profiling tool.

Lots more updates to come next week so if you haven’t already registered for our insights service you can do so here.

Yet another week of really big announcements in the Protection industry.

Im going to start by focusing on an announcement from Protection Guru ourselves, specifically our inaugural awards event. This will take place, health restrictions permitting, in London on the afternoon of Friday 22nd October. We really hope this will be a physical event where the industry can get together, but in these uncertain times we are also making provision for a virtual alternative as a contingency. One way or another the show will go on!

In designing this event the Protection Guru team have focused on two things. First creating awards that are different from current industry events. There are already some great awards in the protection market, the LifeSearch awards and Protection Review being two fine examples. Our style is to innovate, so we’ve taken a different approach to both the adviser and insurer awards.

In the adviser categories we are looking to recognise those who perhaps don’t always get the credit for making a big difference in protection, we hope you agree we have created new categories in many areas. Both individuals and advice firms can be recognised, and especially those such as mortgage and wealth advisers to whom protection is an extension of their business rather than the core. Equally, we will be applauding the best new entrants, again individuals and firms in the last 24 months, also those people who are really using social media to reach new audiences and transform the way consumers think about protection. Advisers, both individuals and firms, can submit their entries from now until the end of August.

Similarly, in designing our insurer awards, rather than focus on products the awards aim to recognise the organisations who best meet different client needs. Our insurer awards will solely be voted for by those of our audience who work in advice firms, they can vote now from this link for all the award categories, although there will also be invitations to vote appearing for those eligible on Protection Guru throughout August.

Finally, on this subject I must thank Guardian, Royal London and Zurich who have already confirmed they will be sponsoring the event, we are in discussion with many more sponsors too and I hope to confirm these shortly.

Turning to other important events this week, we now know there are three great Hamiltons in history Alexander, Lewis and Peter.

The first created the American financial system which now dominates the global economy and was the inspiration for what looks destined to be the most successful Broadway musical ever. If you haven’t seen Hamilton, you really must when it reopens in New York, London and many other places. The second is arguably the greatest Formula One driver of all time, I certainly think he is. The third of course is Peter Hamilton who was this week appointed as the disability and access ambassador for the Cabinet Office Disability unit.

Peter is of course stepping into enormous shoes, vacated by Johnny Timpson who has previously carried out this role. I’m absolutely delighted by this appointment, he’s the right person for the job. Few people could step into Johnny’s shoes, but Peter is absolutely one of them. The announcement seems to have been greeted with the universal acclaim from the industry that it deserves.

Our regular content on Protection Guru this week started with Amanda Newman Smith’s analysis on Income protection for NHS medics and how providers compare. In Tuesday’s insight Amanda looked at Who offers business protection to older employees.

Rob Harvey authored Wednesday’s, examination of Non-financially underwritten income protection – looking at how LV=’s new mortgage and rent cover compares. Our second publication of the day from Emma Iskowitz replays the question and answer part of our July Protection Forum discussion on How the FCA consumer duty rules will improve standards in the protection industry. Like the first such summary published last week this really is essential reading/listening for anyone involved with life insurance, wealth or mortgage advice as well as insurers, lenders, investment platforms and pension providers. It’s almost impossible to overstate the impact these new FCA requirements will have, and it’s certainly not too soon to start preparing for them.

Thursday’s early insight saw Rob turn his focus on the full details of Royal London’s Critical Illness Improvements. Our second mailing of the day announced our inaugural Protection Guru Awards as explained above.

We ended the week with a summary of New product launches and improvements in July – 5 things you should read. A great way for anyone to catch up on what has been a far busier July than usual.

Over on Benefits Guru Jason Green’s first insight of the week asked How are workplace pension providers treating customers fairly? It’s great to look at this subject before TCF is replaced by the new consumer duty although inevitably the new requirements will necessitate further investment in systems and services. On Thursday, Jason’s analysis looked at Understanding wake-up packs.

I’m on holiday next week so Rob Harvey and Adam Flowers will be writing our end of week analysis next week. Have a great time everyone, see you in a couple of weeks.