Russell Cross

XPLAN headlines for Managed Services clients - Issue 2

Blog Post created by Russell Cross Employee on Aug 3, 2017



Welcome to the second edition of our Central Services update.  We have a packed update this month covering the following areas:

  • Valuation Wizard hints & tips

  • Term Underwriting now available through Risk Researcher

  • Letter Wizard hints & tips

  • Security - Password Protocols

  • Training Spotlight + booking link

  • Meet the Team - Nuala Clamp (the boss)

  • Client Online Access

If any of your colleagues have not received this update, then please contact your Account Manager and let them know. 


If there are any topics that you would particularly like us to cover then get in touch at


Valuation Wizard - Hints & Tips


We have recently released the latest version (v5) of the Valuation wizard. If you do not yet have it installed then please contact your Account Manager who will help to organise the installation for you.


This has some new features which include:

  • Market Commentary
    • There is now the ability to add your own market commentary onto the introduction page.
  • Graphs and Charts - We have included the ability to choose to include graphs and charts as follows;
    • Portfolio Analysis – Investment Summary: This shows the product, units, price (native currency) and value.
    • Actual vs Regional Asset Allocation – A pie chart showing which regions the portfolios are invested
    • Asset allocation breakdown (value and weight) – This highlights the pie chart information above in tabular form
  • Corporate Branding
    • You can now have a banner added to the header page of the report.  Initially this will be left blank, however, if you would like to take advantage of this, please contact your Account Manager who will be able to facilitate this being setup

The attached PDF contains a comprehensive guide in how to use the Valuation Wizard. Please take a moment to read through it so that you know how to get the most out of this valuable tool.


Term Underwriting now available through Risk Researcher


We’re delighted to announce the launch of online term underwriting on XPLAN Risk Researcher, with market leader Aviva – a new way to give your clients greater price certainty for their term quotes.


Did you know? 75% of protection cases go on risk at standard rates without any additional underwriting. Of the 25% of cases that may result in an increased premium, it is usually due to BMI!


We’ve introduced some additional underwriting questions to the term quote service which enables you to get a more accurate quote back from providers when quoting for the most common cases for increased premiums.


Aviva is the first provider on the service and more will be coming on board soon.


It’s available free of charge as part of the Protection quote service so give it a try today.


Coming soon - Income Protection, Multi-Benefit and Multi-Policy quotes will also be enhanced with online underwriting over the coming months.


If you are interested in finding out more then please contact your Account Manager.


Letter Wizard - Hints & Tips


At the time of writing this document, the latest letter wizard will have just been implemented to the majority of the Central Services user community.  If you do not have it yet then please contact your Account Manager and arrange for it to installed. It takes around 20 minutes and can be completed at the same time as you are using the site.


The new version brings improvements around the following areas:

  • Includes the users job description in the closing signature (requires job description to be updated on the user record)
  • Removes the double spacing that appeared on some addresses
  • The subject is now Bold and all on one line
  • The address fits into a standard windowed envelope
  • Option to store the letter against the customer record

The attached Letter Wizard user guide will steer you through the process of producing letters using the wizard for lots of different scenarios.  In addition, it includes information on how to set up basic letter templates that can be used again and again ensuring consistency of message and saving valuable time in the production of letters. 


If you need help with any of this then contact your Account Manager for assistance.


Client Online Access


Client Online Access is a web portal that provides your clients with the flexibility and convenience of viewing their live consolidated investment portfolio and other client data online. 


The flexibility in the solution means that you can select one of 12 access levels which will provide as much information as you want your client to see.  This ranges from:

  • Document Vault - clients can only see documents saved in the document note area.
  • Document Vault with Policies - clients can see the above option plus a list of the policies the client has.
  • Document Vault, Policies and Portfolio - clients can see the above option plus the holdings of their policies within the Portfolios area.
  • Optional Extras include:
    • Diary Appointments
    • News
    • Factfind
    • Risk Profile Questionnaire
    • Customer wizards / pages
    • Contact us

If you would like to further enhance your customer proposition with Client Online Access then please contact your Account Manager who will be able to give you a demo and answer any questions you may have.



Security - Password Protocols



We all know that our passwords need to be strong, hard to guess, but easy to remember. Many people seem to struggle with coming up with passwords, and an alarming number of people will use the same passwords across all accounts online.... and at work. Most people have a favorite password that is used, and maybe a few variation thereof, and you use for these for most of your logins. You may be pretty careful about where and when you enter your password, and it may even be a very strong password. These passwords (or variations thereof) are used at work, you emails, your banking etc.


Making a password strong

So how can we make strong passwords that are very hard to guess, but easy to remember? Many people think that best password is complex and full of special characters, but the truth is that a long password is actually better than a short and complex password with special characters. The best passwords are actually sentences...

A password should never...:

  • be short
  • be a dictionary word
  • be re-used more than once
  • be a name of someone or something related to you (wife, kids, pets, car etc)
  • your birthday / ID number / Birth year
  • be one of the "common" passwords


Password variation generators can take all of this information and create variations of them to try and guess your password.


Option 1

Use an easy to remember sentence... it doesn't even have to contain special characters, but putting some in will never hurt. For example:



Option 2

Otherwise you can create your own "Algorithm." Most people have favorite passwords, and favorite numbers. So combine these with a random "Indicator" to create unique passwords for every different online account you have.

Example algorithm:

<favourite password>#<favorite number><@><service / account><!>


The data between each set of <> brackets can be changed to suit your needs so its easy to remember your very long and complex password. So it could be something like:

Mypassword#1234@yahoo! (You can vary how you represent the pertinent data, in a way you will remember)


So the only thing that changes is the service you logging into (yahoo), and perhaps the special characters you use to separate the data sets. The first part of your password remains pretty much the same.


Password "Best Practices"

  • never use the same password in more than one place
  • always use unique password sets for things like banking
  • never use dictionary words, or publicly available information (dates of birth, family names etc)
  • change important passwords at least once a year
  • use sites like to be notified if you credentials are ever compromised, and change the password immediately.
  • always check the security of a website before creating an account (HTTPS)
  • passwords should be at least 8 alphanumeric characters long



Protecting our credentials is our responsibility, and only we can make sure we do it right! An attacker only needs to get hold of your credentials once, and they can do some real damage! We need to realise that the danger of getting compromised, can negatively impact our work and our personal life, and even put our loved ones at risk. Once an attacker has your details, nothing is safe...


Jacque Taljaard - IRESS Information Security Manager


Meet the team - Nuala Clamp, Head of Central Services UK


Nuala joined Spotlight Interactive, a financial planning software provider in South Africa, in 2002. She sold her practice methodology to Spotlight and was originally responsible for implementing the best practice into the software they sold.   IRESS latterly acquired Spotlight Interactive in 2007.


The biggest change that she has seen since joining has been the growth of the company.  It has expanded across the breadth of the Financial Services industry offering functionality to all sectors.


Nuala loves her role because she is very passionate about her people, the independent financial advisory market and the entrepreneurial nature of their businesses. Her driving ambition is focused on "building brilliant people" and that includes her staff, colleagues and her customers.


Its not just work, work, work though for Nuala.  She loves the ocean and was a keen diver before she moved to the UK 3 years ago.  She would go diving most weekends when she was back "home" in South Africa. Its the one thing she misses a lot.



Training Spotlight


A new course - "Next Steps" has been developed as a follow on to "New User Core".  It is specifically aimed at users who are involved in the servicing elements of XPLAN.  The prime focus is as follows:

  • Valuation Process - updating clients policies and values and producing a valuation report
  • Dealing with policy amendments such as Contributions and Withdrawals
  • Adding more complex policies such as SIPPS and Drawdowns
  • Using workflow throughout XPLAN to manage your workload - tasks & threads
  • Manage client correspondence using the Document Library & Letter Wizard

Our on-site training is fully interactive and each course has clear learning objectives.  These are met through hands on application, exercises and real life scenarios.  Trainees are introduced to XPLAN with initial training.  Following the training, trainees would then follw the modular based learning programme suitable for their roles.


To review the full suite of training courses offered - both classroom and webinars, please select the link below.




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Warwick Technology Park, Warwick, CV31 1YW



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