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Accessory before the fact-find

At a recent IFA UK event, I asked a group of IFAs to tell me if they enjoyed fact-finding. One IFA out of 50 raised his hand. Either IFAs in the Newcastle area were suffering from a rare case of mass shyness or the majority did not, indeed, enjoy the fact-finding part of their job.

As a client, I have found that fact-finding is one of the most intrusive and difficult interviews I have ever been in.

Difficult, because, on each occasion (and there have been many with different IFAs), I have felt that every question has been loaded to sell me a product. Intrusive because, during interviews at my home, I have been forced to scrabble into the backs of drawers and handy carrier bags where a lot of my “uninteresting” documents are kept while my IFA sits drinking tea and catching up on the most recent episode of Coronation Street.

Taking a less emotional approach and looking at how much time fact-finding takes, IFA practice Quay Associates was taking an average of an hour to travel to see clients and possibly two hours covering a whole fact-find. Back at the office, after recommendations were made, the fact-find was neatly filed in a cabinet and forgotten until the next client or compliance review.

Today, IFAs are increasingly embracing back-office technology which incorporates the ability to pre-populate fact-finds.

Of course, there are cost implications of incorporating new technology into your practice. First, there is the time-cost of sourcing the right product. There is also a time-cost in learning the new system. And the technology itself costs money – good technology, at any rate.

The biggest initial cost when using your back-office system will be time spent inputting client data into the system. But this will be rewarded at review time when you will be able to present your client with a pre-populated fact-find that can be printed and sent to them prior to the meeting. Your client will have time to update the information before you arrive. It would be even more time-efficient if a pre-populated fact-find could be emailed instead.

Intelligent fact-find programs are recent introductions to the market. They are intelligent in that they build the form based on the intelligence already held within the system. They will not ask questions that are irrelevant to the client and will not let you or the client move on unless mandatory information is completed.

The beauty of such a product is that the client can complete the fact-find electronically and email it back to you. It then updates the client record in your back office and archives the previous factfind for audit and compliance purposes. The time you have spent is the total time it takes to locate the client record and to email it to them. Conservatively, our research shows that up to 73 per cent of time can be saved using electronic fact-finding at review time.

So far, I have only discussed fact-finding in relation to using pre-populated fact-finds, where you already know your client. But what about taking it one step further and using fact-finds before the initial meeting. Do I hear a sharp intake of breath?

I hated the first fact-find that was conducted in my house. It made me uncomfortable and, to be honest, I did not trust the person asking so many probing questions. I would have preferred a less intrusive method of communication. If I had been mailed an intelligent fact-find prior to the meeting, I believe it would have put me more at ease.

A new way of introducing fact-finding for new prospects is through e-business cards. E-cards are the size of a business card but can be put into the CD-Rom of more modern PCs and played. Quay Associates&#39 e-business cards contain brochure type information, plus guides, calculators and fact-finds. A word of caution. though. E-business cards do not work on all systems and are best used for new systems.

Clearly, there are many ways in which fact-finding can be undertaken in a more time-efficient manner. They may not work for all clients but will work for many of them.

I can assure you, unless you enjoy spending time catching up on Coronation Street, that they will work for you.

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