With pressure to deliver affordable financial advice profitably, tackle rising costs and inject value into the advice process, more financial advice practices are looking at ways to automate. It’s one of those things businesses know they should be doing but struggle with because it’s hard to know where to start. Focus on the wrong thing and you could waste time and effort automating work that doesn’t bring you any real benefit.

If you want to up your ‘A’ game, a good starting point is to ask ‘should you actually be doing the work to begin with?’ If the answer’s ‘no’, just get rid of it. There is no sense in automating work you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Similarly, automating a one-off process probably isn’t very valuable either.

Automation is about getting technology to do the work you do time and time again - the repetitive, mundane tasks so that you can put your precious time to better use. There are lots of things that financial advice practices do over and over again that are worth automating. These are our top five.

Five processes financial advice businesses should be automating:

  • Initial client fact finds

The client fact-find and onboarding process can be long-winded and repetitive. Asking for the same data multiple times is tiring for everyone and there’s a danger you lose your client’s interest there and then.

Modern financial advice software with automation capabilities can remove many of the repetitive tasks associated with onboarding. For instance, it can produce pre-populated documentation and send it automatically to the client for a digital signature, and trigger alerts to others in the business when it’s time to complete the next task.

Automating this task means advisers can focus entirely on building the relationship - not the paperwork. The time savings can create greater capacity for bringing more clients on board without any compromise of service quality. What’s more, a good onboarding process offers fantastic opportunities to scale, efficiently and profitably. One business doing it well is Birling Wealth Management, which is saving 10-15 hours every month simply by using Xplan to automate their onboarding processes - not bad!

  • The client review process

Once a client has been brought on, service can become much less high contact and there’s scope for further automation of advice processes. Be clever about it - more often than not the vast majority of an adviser’s business revenue comes from existing clients so it makes sense that this is where advisers should spend their time. However our own research found that 60% of client reviews often result in little to no change to accounts yet can take up to half a day of an adviser’s time to complete.

One way to speed up client reviews without compromising on service quality is by setting up automated workflows within a practice management system like Xplan. Again, it can trigger a series of tasks from sending automatic invitations to clients who are due a review, track their acceptance, send the client a personalised review pack, and a reminder notification. It can also send the relevant review documentation straight to the adviser’s inbox ahead of the appointment and, if a client portal is used, all documents can be automatically shared between the adviser and client. It’s all tracked and the risk of mistakes is minimised too.

  • Revenue management

Revenue and remuneration is a time consuming and high stakes process for financial advice practices. Automating it can generate significant time savings and eliminate errors. There are revenue management systems that can automate everything - import of supplier statements and bank receipts, sales and pipeline reporting, remuneration models, revenue splits, invoicing, reconciliation processes, comprehensive reporting and payment distribution. Evidence shows that modern, automated revenue management systems, like CommPay, can be up to 50% more efficient than manual processes.

  • Compliance

Meeting your promises and satisfying the regulator mean that good compliance often equals a good business. A well run and compliant business can also be more efficient so, with the cost of compliance increasing year on year, this is another area well worth automating.

Building compliance into all of your processes digitally can significantly reduce the time your business spends aggregating information. Use financial advice software that automatically records audit trails, notifies you of deadlines and events, such as 10% investment drops for MiFID II, and alerts Compliance when a case is ready for review. Practice management systems, like Xplan, will also generate your key reports for you including RMAR and Gabriel plus any other ad-hoc regulatory and business reports you need while also allowing remote support from compliance specialists. You’ll wonder how you ever managed it all manually before.

  • Service personalisation

Offering a personalised and bespoke service to every client is what every business should strive for. Realistically though, it’s not always feasible to achieve with the volume of other high-priority tasks required to meet basic service levels. But with the power of automation, it’s easy to introduce small touches that make a big difference to your client relationships. For example, why not automate personalised emails to send on your clients’ birthdays or anniversaries? Or, as your clients near retirement age, a friendly personalised email to ‘check in’ and suggest some timely financial considerations - and a catch up of course. There are so many opportunities to add these personalised touches to your service once you have the right technology to support you.

Do more, with less

Using technology to automate the repetitive and time-consuming aspects of the advice process is probably the only way financial advice businesses can deliver more affordable and profitable advice. But automation isn’t just about cost savings. With the ability to deliver smoother, more efficient experiences for both advisers and their clients, businesses that automate could find that their client satisfaction and engagement rates improve too.

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