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Karl Dines: How does your advice process stack up against peers?

New research explores how advisers are using their time and what can be learned from the most efficient

While every adviser has certain processes and practices which are entirely their own, there are a number of things each has in common: a desire to find the best possible outcomes for clients, concerns about the impact of growing FCA requirements and a lack of spare time.

When you are very busy, it can seem counterproductive to take time out to explore how you can approach introducing time-saving efficiencies.

However, a recent piece of work we have undertaken may prove interesting if you’re wondering about the time you spend on certain areas of your advice process and how this compares to the way other advisers work.

We set out to see if there were common themes occurring across the processes of the advice community and found the average time taken to conduct initial advice was as shown in the table below.

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But while it highlights the average amount of time taken by the advisers we surveyed, the accompanying chart below reveals there is a marked difference in the amount firms spend on various tasks.

So when we look at the firms spending the most time on areas we know are most valued by clients, what are they doing differently? What can we learn from their operational practices?

The same things kept coming up from those firms who used their time most effectively:

1. Plan ahead – build a CIP

How do you go about designing a centralised investment process if you’re starting from scratch? In FG12/16, the regulator gave us a comprehensive overview of the elements which needed to be considered: regulator guidance, governance framework, product governance, filtering criteria, method of delivery and implementation/integration.

A one-size-fits-all process is not going to work perfectly for every advice firm any more than it’s going to work for every client. However, using the FCA’s guidance as the foundations upon which you build is a very sensible place to start.

2. Uniform and repeatable – macro and micro

You know your clients better than anyone and it makes sense to keep some of the micro elements of your process bespoke to the way in which you want to work with them.

However, having a repeatable framework in which you have documented your processes, ensured your understanding of the systems and software, and identified hygiene factors could prove invaluable in saving you both time and resources.

3. Technology – better and faster

The time you spend face-to-face with your clients is where the value sits in your process, and nobody would ever suggest that should be cut down for the sake of efficiency. That said, there are elements of the process that tech systems can perform more quickly and often more accurately. Are you letting tech do enough of the routine heavy lifting in your advice process?

While nobody is suggesting that cloning the successful practices of other firms will be exactly right for you and your clients, gaining insight into the operations of your peers can provide a rich seam of ideas that could prove beneficial to you.

Similarly, while the concept of “taking time to make time” might seem almost impossible while you grapple with the everyday challenges of increasing regulation, spending time with clients and running a business, you will reap the rewards in the long term. 

Karl Dines is head of business consultancy at The SimplyBiz Group

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There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Richard Leeson 5th June 2019 at 2:31 pm

    As a client I would prefer that you compare your process to my expectations as a client and not what other advisers are doing!! Then there would be more ongoing advice, less complacency and fewer issues for advisers to worry about in the longer term.

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