It’s safe to say that advice businesses have experienced varying degrees of success.
Advice practices that run on modern technology where everything is online and in one place have found it easier to ‘be digital’. Many even say they are better connected to their clients than they were before and have found the capacity to take on more cases (read how CPN Investment Management did it here). Those businesses will now be looking at how they can scale up their digital strategies further while others look on enviously.
But what if you’re not one of the success stories and are finding moving forward with digital processes a challenge? Perhaps you’re struggling to make it work as efficiently and smoothly as you’d like, or find you’re still having to fill in some gaps manually and haven’t quite managed to ditch the hard copy files just yet?
Firstly, don’t worry. Going digital has a wide impact on your business’ operating model, far beyond what you and your clients see on screen. Secondly, when problems implementing digital processes arise, it’s usually down to some common barriers.
Let’s take a look at those barriers and what you can do to overcome them.
You want to move forward but find your core financial advice software doesn’t give you the capabilities you want to deliver to clients. We see this a lot. It’s often down to the fact that many financial advice businesses have self-built applications and routines (like excel) to go round the edge of their core financial advice platform. This makes it more difficult to upgrade or change what they’ve created to keep their end-to-end processes going. But it’s not insurmountable, and businesses are finding ways to overcome this with a little help from a technology partner who can provide a more holistic and objective view.
If this sounds familiar, it’s worth contacting your Iress account manager for a review of your systems and technology. They’ll be able to quickly establish where the problem is and suggest a better way of doing things. For example, it might be that you want your advisers to be able to work on mobile, or you might want to put some integrations or automation in place to cut down the time you’re spending doing dataflows and other manual work. Whatever it is, we can help.
People often say that their senior team get ‘it’; they know digital is a priority and want to move forward. Teams on the ground say, ‘if only we could make better use of modern technology, our jobs would be a lot easier’. Somehow, initiatives can get stuck in the middle of businesses - it’s either not a priority, or other things are high on the agenda. The irony is that a clear digital strategy can often make other business initiatives a lot easier to achieve.
To overcome this barrier, you’ll need a joined-up approach and consensus on priorities. It’s important to get traction and to avoid ending up with a few digital initiatives running in silos. Many initiatives stall because that buy-in isn’t there. We’ve got some more tips to help tackle this issue in our article ‘How to embrace technology change’.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, successful business models don’t start with technology, they start with data. Good data management is the bedrock of embracing a digital advice model. It’s what enables you to automatically send accurate, meaningful reports to clients at the click of a button and extract valuable insights to improve sales and make better decisions. Trouble is, 80% of firms say they haven’t got a single version of the truth for some of their core data items (those pesky excel spreadsheets and workarounds cause more problems than you think). Compliance issues aside, running your business in this way gives you little opportunity to use data for efficiency and growth.
We’ve got some tips on how to better manage data in this article. However, to get out of this transitionary phase, you need a centralised system for storing and accessing your client data. Take a look at Xplan which solves some of the common data challenges financial advisers experience and enables them to use their data in a smarter way. Ask your Iress account manager for a demo.
We've helped many advice businesses overcome their struggles and get moving in the right direction. Get in touch with your Iress account manager for a free review of your systems and processes. We’re ready when you are.
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Down-to-earth tips to help you scale up and accelerate into a new frontier.
Sarah Atkinson looks at how to improve your practice using data and by automating more of what you do.