In my last article, I focused on the RDR and how technology is and will be an integral part in assisting financial practices to deliver a greater service to clients. There are many ways in which, used correctly, the right technology can drive huge efficiencies through your business.
The technology at your disposal has to be embraced to reap fully the benefits that it can bring. We all use technology in our working environment and this can span from back-office systems, research and quote portals, wrap platforms, provider extranets to fund analytics. All these offerings reduce the amount of time it takes to obtain the data we require to offer clients the best advice and service possible.
Back-office systems vary greatly both in terms of functionality but also how they work and the platform they use to deliver services. History has shown that initially BoS were written in DOS, then Windows and in more recent years, there has been a tremendous shift to web (operating in the cloud) technology. There are many reasons for this but in the main it allows secure, remote access to data, with a reduced total cost of ownership to the user.
Organisations where their product offering is built upon a web-based infrastructure enable their customers to benefit from a whole raft of operational advantages. Typically, it also means such firms are in great shape to deal with the changes that the RDR brings as well as offering current clients a user-friendly, secure, efficient end-to-end offering. These benefits are paramount for financial practices and, in using the most appropriate technology, can then assist to deliver quality services to their clients.
Croesus Financial Services managing director Paul Kingston has been using Intelligent Office since March 2010.
He says: “Prior to the introduction of Intelligent Office, IntelliFlo’s complete practice management solution, we had a very basic data base (Fairs) which was not adequate to power a service proposition with several levels. Having segregated our client bank, we found that we had four distinct client groups. The first and smallest group demand regular service (quarterly updates and bi-annual meetings), the second needed half-yearly updates and yearly meetings, the third tier being clients that needed annual reviews. The final bands of clients are effectively dormant clients. All of these need different service levels but, irrespective of this, they all need a strong valuation service delivered consistently.
“We determined that our existing data base could not do this at all and so we sought to find a back-office system that we believed could help us deliver our service proposition. We were particularly focused on the client experience and the reports that a system could deliver to them. We looked at a number of providers but we chose Intelligent Office because of the fact that the system is hosted by their servers, allowing access to client files via the internet at any location. We liked the client reports that are produced and the ability for us to choose how these are generated and displayed to clients.
“As an adviser with three locations and advisers in each of them, the system has allowed us to manage the business more effectively. Importantly, it allows us to have a repeat and robust process, ensuring that all advisers are using the same attitude to risk questionnaires and allows us, from a TCF point of view, to be certain that all clients are dealt with in a consistent manner, whether they see an adviser in one office or another.
“The adoption of a technology solution has changed our business immeasurably. On the commission side for example, a good 90 per cent-plus of fees we receive are automatically allocated to the client file and hence to the adviser. The system learns and allows a huge amount of statistical information, especially useful with various FSA returns. There is also a wide range of reports. One that we run regularly is the funds under management report. Each time a client file is reviewed and a valuation is completed, the data is added to this report. This has emphasised to us the value we have within the business and drives us forward.
“Client files are easy to review and with more valuations being provided online, it makes for efficient productivity. Fund fact sheets are readily available and clients like the colour coding, making it easier to understand the returns and where these have come from.
“Furthermore, Intelligent Office drives our service proposition and allows us to say to clients that not only do we promise a service but we can deliver on it. We believe this is what makes us different. On so many occasions, we hear that an adviser offers a service but in most cases there is no evidence that it has been delivered. Intelligent Office ensures that we do this. It also encourages us to provide clients with additional services, allowing us to charge for this.
“Additionally, we can also say that we are ready for the RDR.”