Admittedly, thinking about systems and processes is unlikely to get most people excited (unless perhaps you work at Iress) but it’s critical to the success of any business, never more so than when people are working in a dispersed, remote way.

So, while you might feel like there’s too much other stuff going on to give it much attention, the current climate does, in fact, present a perfect opportunity to review your operating model. Identify the parts that could and should be automated or delivered digitally, and you’re on your way to building a high performing advice business where every working day gets easier. Now that’s got to be worth thinking about.

It shouldn't be difficult if you keep the focus to three key areas. Let’s take a look.

1 - Everything starts with data

Successful business models don’t start with technology. They start with data. Trouble is, all too often, it’s all over the place.

Data holds the key to important insights into your business and your clients. It needs to be put at the heart of everything you do. You need it to know where you are now, where you want to be, and where to focus.

The challenge is, many advice firms are still in a phase of data transition. From paper to digital and from unstructured to structured. Increasing regulation and reputation risks have understandably kept many firms focused on data protection and compliance (the things that must be done), leaving little opportunity to consider data for business efficiency and competitive advantage (the data advantage).

If that sounds familiar, consider the following to get better at managing and using your data:

  • Where do you store your client and business data?
  • Is it easy to access your data? Even if your main device gets broken/lost/stolen?
  • Is your data secure?
  • Do you have a single source of truth?
  • Are all files digitised, stored and backed up in a secure cloud-based solution?

Do keep it real. Yes, there’s been a lot of discussion about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in recent years, but these concepts are quite a way off for most financial services firms. What’s more realistic, and useful, is understanding the data you have in your business and making sure you have a system to capture it, store it and handle it in accordance with privacy laws and other legislative requirements.

If bad data is a problem in your business, chat to your Iress account manager for some advice on making it better.

2 - Use automation for a better experience

Once you’ve got your data in order, you fling open the doors to automation and enter a world of endless possibilities where you are free to dedicate more time to your clients and business.

Again, don’t think about software or solutions just yet. First, you need to have a clear understanding of what the ideal experience for your clients and employees looks like. Then, only once processes and responsibilities have been clearly defined, cloud-based advice software can be applied to automate tasks, manage the flow of work throughout your business and track activities to completion.

You’ll be amazed by what you can do and the difference it makes. Alerts can be set up to identify processes that aren’t being followed properly. Powerful data analytics software can also be plugged in to proactively scan for risks and issues before they become a problem – including red flags such as identical strategies applied to all clients, spikes in revenue, elderly clients over-invested in growth assets and evidence of fee-for-no-service.

I’ll be honest, you won’t achieve all this with Adviser Office but you can with Xplan. Talk to your Iress account manager to learn more about it, and to see it in action.

3 - Choose the right digital tools to support you

Digital advice tools enable you to provide advice to clients faster, while at the same time helping you communicate and engage with clients quickly and easily (something they certainly want more of in 2022 - check out my article on this). Advice firms that use them also benefit from reduced costs, simplified compliance practices and scale and growth opportunities. What’s not to like?

There are heaps out there, you won’t need them all. These are my ‘must-have’ digital tools for financial advisers. To find out more about these tools and how they work read this article ‘Why it’s time to shake off the legacy value of paper’.

  • Video conferencing - convenient and cost-effective. Love it or hate it, there’s no going back to long-distance and unnecessary meetings after using this.
  • Client portals - the easier, more secure way to do business. No adviser (or client) should be without one.
  • Digital and e-signatures - fast, simple, efficient - how did we manage without them?

So there you have it. My tips to get you thinking and moving forward. For more articles to help you build a better performing advice business, visit our Built for Better hub.

How can we help?

You might not like thinking about technology - we do! Get in touch with your Iress account manager for a good chat about how you could improve the way you work (you might just enjoy it).