If your home needs a makeover and you don’t know where to start, you can contact an interior design firm. But if your business could do with an overhaul and you need help to sort the wheat from the chaff, where do you turn?
A firm like Jigsaw Tree might be the answer. The firm provides business improvement consultancy services for advisers and other financial services firms, such as platforms. It also offers advisers a separate outsourced income reconciliation service, so that firms can match their income receipts against bank accounts and specific clients. This could make it easier for firms to complete their Retail Mediation Activities Return for the FCA.
Founded in 2012 by Chris Baigent-Reed (pictured), former head of client engagement at Avelo (now Iress), Jigsaw Tree helps firms to review their technology and business processes to ensure they are getting the best out of them, while highlighting and implementing any improvements that can be made.
On the consultancy side, Baigent-Reed and her small team of directors provide technology reviews; staff engagement and business planning workshops; bespoke quick-reference guides for business procedures; a technology tender process; action plans for meeting RDR service and reporting requirements; plus change and project management.
“With any service we offer we start with the premise of let’s go into the business and understand what it wants to be, what are the challenges and what is the appetite for making the necessary changes that will help us build the right proposition for the client,” says Baigent-Reed. “We offer a really broad spectrum of services. When I created the business I didn’t foresee that we would go into all those areas.”
Jigsaw Tree uses its expertise in platforms and back-office systems to undertake reviews of the technologies that advice firms already have in place. In doing this, Baigent-Reed has found a lot of advisers are frustrated with technology. “They can be naïve about technology. They say ‘let’s have demonstrations with three of the key names we know and then we can make a decision.’ They don’t go through the due diligence process,” she says.
This lack of due diligence led to the development of Jigsaw Tree’s technology tender process for firms that want to change technology providers. The service uses a questionnaire and analysis to compare technology providers in relation to a firm’s specific requirements.
But Baigent-Reed says some firms that think they need to replace their technology find they do not need to once they understand how their existing system can do what they want it to do. Sometimes a little bit of investment in training is all that is missing and Baigent-Reed says firms often don’t realise this.
“We find that firms invest in technology when they start out but they make subsequent changes and won’t have things like refresher courses for their staff. Nine out of 10 times they don’t invest in training. They often don’t realise that a lot of the technology providers will provide free webinars, roadshows and workshops.”
Aside from the usual worries for advice firms, such as compliance/RMAR reporting, the cost of running a businesss and how much to charge clients, Baigent-Reed says some firms struggle to provide a quick overview of what they can do for clients.
“Sometimes there is also a lack of a strong project plan in place, which they need to look at alongside their business plans. And data is often held in too many places and is not shared across the technologies.
“Information needs to be managed the right way and firms need to look at whether they are using it the right way – for example, for trend analysis.”
Later this month Jigsaw Tree will relaunch its website, which will be followed in December by the launch of Jigsaw Tree Outsourcing as a separate company.
Jigsaw Tree Outsourcing will focus on the income reconciliation service. In common with Jigsaw Tree’s consultancy service, this can be tailored to organisations according to the level of support they need. This makes it difficult for Baigent-Reid to generalise on the costs for both services but she says Jigsaw Tree is willing to be flexible.
The income reconciliation process starts with a database analysis that looks at a firm’s current process and the potential challenges that Jigsaw Tree could face in taking on this work.
“We then get all the statements – income from renewal, trail, advice charges, commission – match it through our reconciliation system and at the end of the month run relevant reports for clients,” says Baigent-Reed.
“The income reconciliation we do saves companies around 20 per cent of the cost of employing someone to do the work.”