It is frustrating to think that upper limits are set, not on the capacity to advise or the availability of new clients, but by interminable tasks and the need to generate pages of compliance blurb, which is often impenetrable or meaningless to the average investor.
For those unwilling to accept this status quo, the only solution is automation.
Advisers need to look beyond the back-office systems that have served them well to date, but that only store contact information, create a single view of client holdings and monitor remuneration. Even the most sophisticated back-office system is unlikely to make the difference for an adviser trying to operate in today’s environment.
Focus on service
RDR and other international regulatory changes have placed a far greater emphasis on the service proposition advisers are giving clients. Advisers not only need to provide greater transparency on fees, but also to clearly demonstrate that the advice they provide is suitable for a client’s needs. In short, advisers need to show the value they provide to clients.
In addition to demonstrating the value of their service, advisers also have a large administrative burden: they need to disclose their fees and get client opt-in regularly, write suitability reports following delivery of advice, and make sure they are on top of all their compliance requirements, just to name a few. This can be tough to scale with a back-office system that is only records activities rather than focusing on the client’s experience. The real question to ask is, “Does the client value, or even see, all the effort that occurs in the back office?” Probably not. To our mind, simple back-office systems just can’t deliver in this new environment. Advice businesses need customer relationship management (CRM) systems if they want to grow their client base and provide a strong level of service that a client sees and values.
CRMs offer a tool to build and manage the relationship with clients, rather than simply being a mechanism to keep everything in one place. They are used to help deliver the service to the client, rather than just store the history of it.
A good CRM starts helping at the very beginning of the client relationship, at an introductory call or fact find, through subsequent meetings, implementation and ongoing service. Online engagement tools will assist throughout the entire lifecycle of the client journey.
Establishing a workflow
A good CRM provides advisers with an opportunity to evaluate and streamline their workflow: how can they deliver their client proposition in efficiently while eliminating cumbersome processes? The more an adviser ‘rinses and repeats’ the model they build within a CRM, the more they become aware of areas that have been inefficient and are able to tweak their workflow accordingly.
With a healthy workflow established, an adviser can work out the time and cost to deliver their service proposition for each different types of client - silver, gold, platinum, for example. The CRM then supports that service, issuing reminders for client meetings or updates at the appropriate intervals. This maximises time spent WITH the client rather than on the client.
High touch engagement
A CRM allows the adviser to create a factory-repeatable process. Advisers can communicate at scale because they no longer need to individually contact each client to take action, the CRM does it automatically. It allows a high-touch service without additional work for an adviser.
The adviser’s focus then becomes about the delivery of the service rather than the production of it. CRM’s have built-in tools to deliver on that engagement through online portals, where it is possible to view investment positions, update information digitally and communicate freely with the client. This creates new, modern ways for advisers and their clients to interact.
The Premium CRM system WealthCraft has been used across the globe and in the UK (known as Plum Software).