I see and speak to so many financial advice businesses in the same situation regarding data. Usually, they’re in a place of data transition, juggling both paper and digital records. They put up with errors, duplication and find it hard to do anything of value with their data.
You don’t need me to tell you that clean data and data security are vital for compliance and the effective day-to-day operations of an advice business. But they’re also vital for performance and growth - a fact too many businesses forget in their haste to meet the latest data regulations.
Credit company Experian which collects and aggregates data on over 1 billion customers worldwide, knows a thing or two about data. They say, “Achieving and maintaining accurate and reliable customer data in your database and having the tools, processes and procedures in place to maintain the data is fundamental for business success. Clean data can save your organisation time and money, boost employee trust in your business systems, and improve your client’s experience.”
Whether you keep your data in Adviser Office, excel or any other combination of systems, applications or filing cabinets (we’re not here to judge!), your data has built up over a long time. You might see it as an important asset and are reluctant to start messing with it.
However, unless your data is well-maintained and updated and everyone on your team enters it in the same way (unlikely), business data can decay at over 40% a year. Inaccuracies creep in, and the whole thing becomes an unreliable mess. Not so much an asset, but a liability sucking away any potential like some sort of data-Dyson.
Let’s assume you’ve used Adviser Office for ten or more years without doing much to enhance or improve your data. It’s not going to be in the best shape and certainly won’t be doing your business or your reputation any favours.
Stop sweeping it under the carpet.
As you might expect, data cleansing is the process of identifying any incorrect, incomplete, duplicated, poorly formed, out of date or unnecessary data. Action is then taken to correct the data by removing, updating and storing it correctly. The result should be a beautifully clean and accurate database where you are confident every record is up to date and correct.
Much like cleaning the oven, data cleansing can be a time-consuming, roll-up-the-sleeves process that most people prefer to avoid (particularly if they are still juggling paper and digital records). However, as with all these things, the benefits far outweigh the initial inconvenience.
Clean up your data, and you’ll be able to engage clients through personalised communications better without fear of any embarrassing errors. It also opens the shiny door to more business automation and valuable insights to help your business grow (something our article ‘How to build a better performing advice business’ explores in more detail).
Data cleanse done, you’ll want to ensure that the dust and dirt don’t start building up again. That means moving to a single system of data storage, one that can help you better manage your data and get into good habits.
Ideally, you should be looking for a system that:
Xplan offers all this and uses your lovely clean data to generate automated reports, power time-saving data flows and enable personalised communications through its client portal - all things you would have found difficult to achieve before.
Moving to a new system is a great opportunity to review your data and a chance to start afresh unhindered by legacy data and technology.
Any system migration starts with a thorough data cleanse to ensure you only put good stuff in and get good things out. There are tools to take the hassle away. If you’re migrating from Adviser Office to Xplan for instance, we provide a Cleansing Tool that makes the job easier.
When it comes to data, the cleaner, the better (why would you want to take over useless, incorrect data?). Certain areas must be cleansed before you upgrade; others are optional.
A quick tip, it’s worth setting aside a few weeks to cleanse your data, but if you’re upgrading to Xplan, we’ll help make sure it’s all done as efficiently as possible.
We will also advise you to:
Let’s wave a magic wand and make your dirty data and dusty old technology a thing of the past. Get in touch with your fairy Godmother (or your Iress account manager) to talk about upgrading to Xplan.
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