Processes are about to change for contracting and compliance staff, and for independent insurance advisors contracted with nine of the industry’s largest carriers and managing general agencies (MGAs).
Those affiliated with Manulife, Canada Life, Sun Life Financial, Empire Life, and Industrial Alliance on the carrier side, or who do business through HUB Financial, PPI Solutions, IDC Worldsource, and Financial Horizons Group, beginning January, will find themselves invited to create one profile for all future compliance screening.
APEXA Corp., a subsidiary of consulting firm LOGiQ3 Corp., is partnered with credit reporting agency, Equifax Inc. for credit checking, BackCheck for criminal background checking, and has established relationships with regulators for license screening.
The “first nine,” as CEO Tonya Blackmore calls the core group of industry businesses, along with Greg Pollock, president of Advocis, The Financial Advisors Association of Canada, are each represented on a governance committee advising the subsidiary corporation. As each phase of the platform is developed too, testers and trainers from each company have participated in software review sessions.
“We had to build up the solution; we couldn’t do that with 200 parties,” she says. “We needed to start with a manageable group, but we needed to be sizable enough to represent the industry.”
In discussing APEXA’s development on industry website, For Advisors Only, Terry Botosan, HUB Financial president says APEXA, industry consulting groups, and software developer, Bluesun, working together for well over a year now, have developed the solution with consideration for advisor’s use in mind with every decision.
“Every decision has been made with them at the forefront,” she writes.
The cost to subscribe, she adds (costs are borne by MGAs and carriers), are not prohibitive. Compared to the cost of current screening efforts in place today, she says using APEXA for advisor screening will likely be cost-neutral for the company.
APEXA says the cost for using the service will be on a per-advisor basis, whether an MGA is screening five advisors, or 5,000.
Once the system is fully operational, Blackmore adds that APEXA will validate license information with the provincial regulators, monitor licences on an ongoing basis – alerting parties when a licence is approaching or beyond expiry, validate errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, and give advisors the ability to request, transfer or terminate contracts all in the same place.
Into the future, Blackmore says the platform could be expanded to launch in other geographies where advisor screening is also becoming a bigger concern, or into other industries or lines of business – mortgage broker screening, property and casualty advisor screening are two possibilities. Before that happens, she says career agencies within Canada would be the next logical step, as many of the relationships to serve screening needs in that channel would already be in place, by virtue of the company relationships already in development with this initial launch.
The company’s efforts for now, however, will be to engage Canadian advisors who will use the platform – beginning with independent insurance advisors. “I think our initial group of carriers and MGAs really understand APEXA, but now we have to start engaging advisors so that, when we roll out in January, they actually know what this is.”
“APEXA is all about standardization,” she adds. “There’s a lot of duplication – an MGA and a carrier, right now, need to do similar screening on the same advisor. They each have to do it independently. It’s not standardized, and it’s not efficient. APEXA does it once. When an advisor comes into the platform, we do the criminal and background checks, and that gets shared with any party they’ve contracted with.”