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5 core processes to build a truly client-centric business

Chris Baigent-Reed, consulting director for Jigsaw Tree, outlines five fundamental business processes that if followed can help adviser firms to deliver a truly client-centric proposition

The financial services industry is constantly being thrown challenges by regulators and legislators – not least the RDR – that translate into operational issues for adviser businesses.

When faced with these operational issues, firms that can break down the requirements find it is possible to implement practical solutions and a clear action plan as to the changes that are needed. In particular, we firmly believe that if you have the right technology implemented with robust and consistent business processes in place, then these issues, will not be as challenging as might at first be considered.

Jigsaw Tree provides business support in a number of key areas and having worked with a diverse number of firms, we know that implementing the following five key elements delivers a consumer-centric proposition, through embedding business efficient processes while delivering key outputs and capturing the right evidence.

1. Defined business processes

When Jigsaw Tree works with firms in helping them to build new and improved business processes, it is very common for individual staff members
to tell us either ”that’s what we’ve always done” or “this process works for me”. We 
are always very clear it is not about individuals, it’s about what’s best for the business and it’s not personal. In order to ensure the business can adopt one best way of working, this must be made clear from the outset. We do this through Staff Engagement Workshops, which ensure that the reasons for change are understood and everyone is brought along on the journey.

2. Clear roles and responsibilities

A number of the businesses we have the pleasure of working with employ great people. What they sometimes do less well is ensure that those people have clearly defined responsibilities, through a job profile. This means that staff often do work outside of the scope of their role and not always where it adds the most value to the business.

In addition to defining clear roles and responsibilities, having a robust induction programme for all new starters is critical to, in my words, sheep dip them into your organization and it is one best way of working.

3. Appropriate technology

Utilising technology to best effect ensures that cost controls are in place and there is the ability to maximise profit.

Firms need to be focused on their technology and how they put it to best effect so that
their clients receive the service promised and that this has
been evidenced should it ever be questioned. RMAR reporting means that more accurate data capture is imperative. By the middle of this year, all firms will need to ensure they can capture relevant data at point of entry so that the reporting is made easy.

4. Management & system controls
From business reviews we have carried out what always strikes me is the number of firms who do not have a formal business plan in place. When I incorporated my business I had some clear goals that the business needed to achieve in terms of technology, clients, marketing, revenue and a strategy plan in place. Since expanding the business we have built a more robust plan that is reviewed on a regular basis and one that we will reward (or not) ourselves against at the end of the year.

It is often said that people who have taken the time to
put down a written goal are more likely to achieve what they want than those that do not. To me this makes sense. I would urge any firm who does not have a formal plan in place to look at templates available on the Internet or secure one from your business bank and get writing. Ensure you are 100% clear on what you want to achieve and by when and that it is reviewed on a regular basis. At the same time, make your business plan flexible enough so that it can be changed when circumstances dictate.

5. Culture and behaviours
The FSA talks about businesses having robust, consistent
and repeatable processes.
How many firms have that currently or invest enough in their technology and people
to ensure they can achieve this? Whilst businesses invest in licenses they do not give enough time or budget to ensure technology is trained fully and updated regularly to keep pace with any changes made. When creating business processes that are right, it’s imperative to start with the end in mind (7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey Snr).

Many firms believe that
when they effect change, the culture in their business and
the behaviours of their staff 
will automatically be different overnight. This is never
 reality and in fact, culture and behaviours always change last.

Having been in financial services since 1995, I have witnessed many changes in this sector. How you affect these in your business are all important and at Jigsaw Tree we always start with understanding your needs and then ensure we bring the rest of your business with us on the change journey.

Unfortunately not all decision makers engage the rest of 
the business early enough and this can stop them getting the results they want as easily as they could achieve them. It is simple to resolve and the benefits can be remarkable.

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