Doing our bit to help the environment is becoming second nature. From taking our own coffee cups and shopping bags to the cafe and supermarket, to trying eco-friendlier products like those weird little reusable cotton buds to cut back on single-use plastic.

But we have to do more. In their 2022 PredictionsExternal link, the boffins at Forrester say tackling climate change will be one of the next battlefields for businesses everywhere. So it’s time to don our armour and plan our strategy in the global fight against climate change and there’s one thing, in particular, I’m ready to take on.

The legacy value of paper

An EY report claimed the amount of paper flowing through the financial services industry is still shockingly significant - something it blames on the ‘legacy value of paper’.

Isn’t it time we shook off that legacy?

The lifetime value of paperless

I want to prove that going paperless is one of the best ways financial advice businesses can perform better - in every way. With the opportunity to improve transparency, trust and reputation, there’s lifetime value to be had in doing ‘good’ business. Yet for many reasons (I hear them all!) financial advice businesses are clinging on to their beloved paper processes for dear life. So let’s take a look at why - and some compelling reasons why they shouldn’t.

1. Old habits die hard

It’s tricky when you’re used to doing something a certain way to try something new (took me a while to get used to those cotton buds), especially when your existing way of working works.

But just like plastic cotton buds are getting phased out, old ways of doing business are being replaced by newer, more sustainable and infinitely more efficient methods.

If you’re still a slave to paper, print and post it might be time to rethink what you do. Client Portals and Digital Signatures have made all that ‘old school’, wiping out the need to print documents and send physical mail.

It’s not new technology, but it is revolutionising business for financial advice firms. Take Euroz Hartleys, a full-service financial firm and Iress client. They wanted to reduce their ‘excessive paper-based processes’ and since using a Client Portal and Digital Signatures have created a purely paperless advice process. Imagine that.

Karen Kernaghan, Associate Director at Euroz Hartleys says:

“Client Portal and Digital Signatures have provided a secure system that is easy for our clients to use, with no need to print documents or send physical mail.”

2. It’s quicker and easier to stick to what you know

You’ve fine-tuned your way of working, it might not be perfect, but it’s done the job for years. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it as they say. I get it. But if you’re still doing things the hard way, it might be time to look at the technology on offer to relieve the pressure and speed things up.

Being able to send and receive digital signatures takes away so much hassle from you and your clients. You don’t have to print, they don’t have to print and there’s no hard copy filing - result.

It can also cut the need for face-to-face meetings and speed up applications because there’s no waiting for documents to be returned by snail mail.

Karen from Euroz Hartleys isn’t looking back. Here’s what she had to say:

“Our clients receive an email informing them they have a secure document awaiting them in their client portal. They log in, read their document, digitally sign it using a dual authentication process, and accept all the terms and conditions, which is a much more efficient process. We estimate we are saving around 30 minutes per every set of documents which frees us up to spend time talking to our clients - not filling out forms.”

3. You like the comfort and security of paper (and think your clients do too)

Whether it’s a ticket to a West End show or a boarding pass, I’ll admit there is a certain safety blanket in having a hard copy print-out in your hand which may account for some of the reluctance to move to an entirely paperless world.

You may be surprised to learn that Client Portals and Digital Signatures offer a much more secure way of communicating with clients than paper. By automatically pulling data through from your CRM, there’s less risk of mistakes or information being received in error. It’ll also keep you on top of your regulatory obligations effortlessly, with copies of your interactions with clients instantly saved to their records.

If that’s not enough to convince you about the merits of paperless advice, there’s strong evidence to suggest that clients prefer it too. It’s a myth that the older generation doesn’t like using digital services. In fact, people find comfort in being able to access their up to date financial information whenever they want to. Whether they do is another matter but something you can check using the Client Portal’s built-in real-time data analytics which shows how often clients are checking their accounts or whether they are disengaged and need more nurturing.

Want proof? Here’s Karen again on how Client Portal has created greater trust between Euroz Hartleys and their clients.

"Our clients are digitally savvy and embrace being able to view their portfolios online. They can access documents without asking us, creating greater transparency by ensuring they have a holistic view of their finances and are clear on whether their financial futures are tracking in the right direction."

4. You don't want to spend money on new tech

It’s a fact that printer ink is more expensive than champagne so if you're still printing off lengthy client documents it might be time to give up that champagne lifestyle of yours!

But there’s more than just the financial cost to consider - there’s the environmental cost too. Your paper processes mean trees are cut, ink is manufactured, plastic print cartridges go to landfill, and the carbon footprint of mail itself.

While savings will vary from firm to firm, to give you an idea, Euroz Hartleys estimate that handling all client documentation digitally saves them around £27 per set of documents each month. Tot that up and that’s a huge saving every month across its 4,000 strong client base.

5. My business is too small to benefit

All financial advice businesses, no matter the shape or size, should be offering a Client Portal and Digital Signatures in this day and age - from a security and client experience perspective if nothing else.

We’ve covered how it’s a more sustainable way of working but I don’t just mean for the environment. Small firms with limited resources stand to benefit enormously from the automation and efficiency a Client Portal and Digital Signatures can bring.

If larger, traditional financial services businesses and institutions can evolve to deliver paperless advice, you as a smaller, nimbler, agile business certainly can too. You don’t need to have an IT department or be an expert in it yourself, you’ve got Iress for all that.

To read more about how advice businesses like yours are moving to paperless advice, take a look at these case studies from Lewis Investment and Birling Wealth Management.

How can we help?

Taking a good hard look at your paper-based processes is a big step towards digital transformation. If you’d like some help doing that, get in touch with your Iress account manager today using the contact form.