Continuous improvement: technology is changing the industry
The global marketplace is changing. For International Financial Advisers, the choice is stark: either adopt best practices in the face of challenges, or slowly become less relevant.
Let’s take a look at how things are changing.
On the financial front, there are increasing – and justified – calls for complete transparency and disclosure of commissions and remuneration. Clients need to know about cost structures for the investment strategies, funds and policies they are being asked to subscribe for. Then, there is a drive – being led by both regulators, clients and internal change champions – to justify the advice we offer with results. This calls for regular reviews, written documentation, and transparent results.
There are also more stringent data protection regulations coming to the fore. As IFAs, we have to thread the needle between making customer information available to internal teams while also ensuring personal data is kept sacrosanct. As new regulations such as GDPR come into play, firms with global operations need to comply with multiple data protection schemes.
So on the one hand, we need to deliver client-centric results while being upfront and honest about commission structures and revenue streams. On the other, we need to be agile, responsive and informed, all the while keeping customer data protected.
Conventional backoffice processes are incapable of keeping up with this lightning-fast environment. At present, many IFAs are running a tangled web of archaic legacy systems, paper-based reporting and clunky archiving. This multiple systems model is inefficient. It reduces transparency, drives down information sharing, and increases overheads – which firms then pass onto their clients. Even worse, things fall through the cracks and mistakes are made. Opportunities to add value are squandered. This must change.
So what can we do about this? As a first step, we must come to the realisation that lean and agile structures never occur by accident. They require investment in technology, coupled with training and change management strategies. We must also throw away our old IT models where multiple systems vie for attention.
The order of the day is digitalisation led by an integrated software solution that can assemble a seamless value chain – from first customer contact all the way to transparent results.
At swissglobal, we searched for a solution to our reporting, data and operational needs – and realised that WealthCraft is an excellent fit for what we want to achieve.
WealthCraft is a financial services solution underpinned by the power of Microsoft Dynamics 365. This robust underlying platform guarantees compatibility across our organisation. Technological jargon aside, WealthCraft lets us store all client information and communication in a single cloud system. The end result: a single source of truth for our clients and internal teams.
This unification of data does two things: it helps us protect our data effectively, and also to utilise it for analysis to create value for our customers.
It’s not enough to just have data. We must also use it in favour of our clients. With WealthCraft, we can achieve the full financial process within a single system. Based on the information we gather and input, WealthCraft helps us create robust risk profiles and investment aptitude analyses for our clients. It also streamlines mundane housekeeping tasks such as making sure documentation is up to date.
A single source of truth and analysis helps us deliver effective service and add genuine value to our clients. But our solution does more than that. It also helps us identify new opportunities and manage our pipeline of future business. It makes sure no business falls through the cracks and no opportunities are lost in a cacophony of trivialities.
Accountability is extremely important. Our integrated WealthCraft system delivers this chain of accountability, ensuring we have reasonable grounds for the client strategies we generate. In fact, our system creates a perfect audit trail of our client relationships, from first meeting to date. All the advice we generate is well-documented and stored.
In short, the financial advisory industry is heading for upheaval. The old ways of conducting business are just not good enough anymore. We’ve been handed the baton of change by our clients, regulators and even our shareholders.
The way forward is digitalisation-driven, with integrated systems powering better results for our clients, and for us. If your firm hasn’t yet invested in an integrated management system, now is the time to take decisive action. From our experience at swissglobal, I’m happy to recommend WealthCraft if you’re building a shortlist of options. The solution has helped us create excellent results for our clients, our internal teams and even our shareholders.
Blog published by Mike Coady.
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