In today’s paperless, touchless COVID-19 environment every Broker-Dealer and Distributor is working double time, trying to determine which product sponsors—whether annuities, securities, or insurance—accept e-Signatures, and what their requirements are. I’ve heard directly from many of them who have designated someone to take on the Herculean task of calling and verifying their top providers. Furthermore, there is currently no guidance from any of the major standards organizations to help them. In many respects, iPipeline has already stepped up to address this troublesome gap.
Through our Laser App solution, which many consider to be a giant forms library, we currently monitor a list of over 700 firms (BDs and product sponsors) regarding their acceptance of e-Signature. If one of our BDs or Distributors wants to enable e-Sign for their financial advisors, we share our e-Sign approved sponsor list with them. While we have not advertised or mass-marketed that as a universally available list, we do consider it to be a differentiator, and we take the responsibility for maintaining that list seriously. There’s no action required from the BD or Distributor- we work directly with the manufacturer and enable e-Sign functionality to them as a benefit to our customers.
For small- and mid-sized Broker-Dealers, of which there are about 600 in the U.S., most of the business they process (about 80%) has a forms component, so this is crucial to them.
For BDs and Distributors who may not be iPipeline customers, my broader advice would be to select an e-Sign provider and an authentication method so your reps can keep working. Stack rank and evaluate your top 20 product sponsors first. Engage with your peers to learn more. If you still need help, reach out to your fund relationship manager, and find out if they accept e-Sign. Remember that some require an additional indemnification agreement. Regardless, during these times, it’s important to get through the process and make e-Sign ubiquitous.