Applying new systems, processes and tools can enable your business to operate more efficiently, meet clients’ needs remotely and remain profitable and sustainable – even under lockdown.
The way business-as-usual is conducted has changed forever. Lockdown restrictions stopped activities like meeting prospective clients in person, face-to-face client reviews, networking gatherings and relationship building events. Many FSPs adapted to the restrictions and advisors found themselves spending work days at a computer – in virtual meetings and attending to client requests electronically.
However, one has to be careful not to get stuck in an administration and maintenance role. If your time is consumed by these tasks, there is little to no time to spend on activities that will grow and sustain your business. By integrating new systems and processes in your business, you can operate more efficiently when working remotely or in the office.
Here are some of the systems, processes and tools that could enhance your business:
Financial planning software and CRM systems
One of your top considerations should be to invest in financial planning software and CRM solutions. Utilising software such as Xplan, atWork and Elite is a great way to enhance your interactions with clients and ensure the business follows processes.
The software integrates personal and financial goals, income, life stages and other client information, providing a holistic view of clients’ financial situations. It can therefore assist with the financial planning process, as you can provide clients with a comprehensive financial plan. With system generated information, you are better equipped to provide error-free and objective advice. You could then focus more on the qualitative phase of the advisory meeting. This improves client fulfilment and client lifetime value.
A CRM system also allows you to record and monitor your interactions across the business. This achieves client-centricity and provides valuable information such as product performance and lead conversions. It also minimises the time required to document and retrieve client information for financial recommendations and relationship purposes.
Another benefit is that the software guides and monitors activities such as capturing and updating client records, processing new business transactions, diary management and client communication. Employees at every level can therefore participate in the client advisory experience. Non-advisory employees would also be able to manage non-income generating processes that previously vested with advisors. This would free up some of your time.
Certain software can also assist with the challenge of managing employees remotely and the security risks that come with working remotely. Software such as Xplan can track tasks and measure the time taken to complete tasks. This information could even be used as a performance management metric.
Advisors who utilise these software solutions in their business have given positive feedback. Nearly 60% of respondents in a 2019 survey said advisors are more productive when they use CRM systems regularly. Also, 39% of respondents said it has increased their business profitability. According to an eMoney client survey, 87% of advisory businesses increased their efficiency. A total of 88% also increased their assets under management after installing financial planning software.
Collect and organise client information with electronic forms
If client queries, or requests for new financial planning needs or even just reassurance, are overwhelming, Google Forms can ease the load. This app enables clients to select an appointment date and time in your calendar via a Google form.
Clients can access forms via a link sent to them by email, WhatsApp or MS Teams. Or you can publish a link on your website. Once the relevant Google form has been completed, client responses are saved and you can view these. This process can also be customised to send clients a welcome message once their appointment is set up.
You can also use Google Forms to distribute questionnaires, for instance, to obtain client feedback. The responses are presented in charts or an organised manner that is easy to read and analyse. This makes it easy to glean valuable management insights, which saves time and enables you to make informed business decisions.
Electronic tools to simplify things
Electronic tools can increase profits, simplify business processes, save time and ensure business continuity. For instance, regular client contact is a critical profit driver, and personalised mail mergers can increase profit by 166%. If you send numerous emails, such as client newsletters, a mail merge tool that sends bulk emails will save you time and impact your profit.
Furthermore, you can use electronic apps to deal with clients more efficiently, as well as seamlessly transact remotely. With applications such as DocuSign, clients can complete contracts, application forms and other documents electronically, and electronically insert their signature. Alternatively, you can use PDF Editor, a Fill and Sign PDF Forms app or CutePDF Editor to edit PDF documents.
Cloud storage to access and back up information
Cloud storage provides access to business information both at the office and from remote locations. With this service, employees who work from home can access client files and business documents.
Cloud storage is key to keeping records and storing the information in an organised manner, so you can operate efficiently. It also provides a back-up service for your data and applications, mitigating the loss of data if your hardware crashes.
Some financial planning software solutions, like Xplan and atWork, incorporate cloud functionality in their offering. For stand-alone cloud services, a monthly subscription could mitigate the cost of the software.
Savings made by working remotely, such as reduced office rental, could offset the software and online costs. You would also save the money that would otherwise be spent on the hardware required to back up your business data.
Keep online information up to date
Individuals are currently online more often than usual. If your business has a website, LinkedIn company page or other online presence, the content should be up to date and detailed. This is a powerful way to display and market your services to both clients and potential clients.
Your online presence can generate leads if your solutions show they can satisfy the needs of potential clients. It can also cement relationships with your clients. Keep your target market in mind and provide materials that can be downloaded or shared. These include company brochures, newsletters, videos and other marketing collateral that conveys information about your brand, products and services.
Furthermore, remember to inform your clients about your online presence, so they can easily share and refer friends and family to your business. An online presence also makes your business accessible to a larger geographical market without excessive marketing costs.
It is clear the new world of doing business online has arrived. The sooner your business models embrace a virtual reality, the sooner your business can operate more efficiently and effectively. Incorporating appropriate new systems, processes and tools in your business will save time and money. Reinvesting this in meeting the additional needs and objectives of clients will ultimately support your business plan.
For assistance on how to minimise the impact of threats to your business and to use the opportunities within the marketplace to grow, register for our How to Create a Business Plan that Works webinar or contact your nearest Masthead Regional Office or your Masthead Compliance Officer.
We would also like to keep track of what is happening in your world. Please feel free to share your positive stories, as well as your challenges, so we can explore ways to support you during the coming months. You can email us at email@example.com