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Use your technology’s capabilities to improve your bottom line

Adviser businesses that are making the most of their technology’s capabilities are the ones reaping bottom line rewards, IntelliFlo’s Nick Eatock tells Rob Kingsbury

One of the major changes in the adviser market since RDR was implemented in 2012, has been that advisers are now looking to find the technology that best fits with their service to their client bank and then more fully using that technology in their business, says Nick Eatock, executive chairman of IntelliFlo.

“There has been increased recognition among adviser firms that the more you use the capability of the technology at your disposal the more efficient your business is going to get, “Eatock says. “That can both allow firms to deliver better service to their clients and improve their bottom line.”

He says: “Historically, back-office technology was primarily a way for advisers to get paid, to reconcile payments, but with RDR having more closely aligned payment with specific service to the client, advisers are realising that using more of a technology’s functionality and potential, can have a massive impact on the costs to their business,” he says.

Eatock cites work done on behalf of IntelliFlo by business consultant firm Hobson and Company, which illustrates this realisation. “Hobson looked at the return on investment (ROI) that advisers can get from investing in and using technology in their businesses. They interviewed a random selection of IntelliFlo clients representing around 2,000 users of Intelligent Office. Those firms had achieved ROIs of between 100% and 600%. The ones that were near the 600% end of the spectrum had used more of the capabilities of the technology. If you use more of the capability you are going to get better efficiencies in your business, better profits and hopefully, drive better service for your customers.” As an example, Eatock cites his experience with an adviser business owner on a panel at a recent conference. “He said before his firm started using our technology, producing a complex suitability report could take the firm eight hours, per report. But by looking at how the technology could work for them, and using automation across valuations, document production and so on, now it takes them just 15 minutes per report.”

Those kinds of returns are being enhanced also by better integration between providers, which allow for faster valuations and downloads, and the willingness of adviser firms themselves to embrace that they are working now in a digital age and making use of using the capabilities of the technology at their disposal, Eatock adds.

Data lies at heart of system and business

Another key realisation among adviser firms, Eatock says, is that the quality of the data that they put in is very important. It helps them to know their clients better and operationalise the things that they do for their clients more effectively. “Historically, often the minimum amount of data on the client was entered in order for the adviser to get paid, without thinking about what else they could do if they had good quality data and how valuable that could be to their business.

Data lies at their heart of their system and their business,
as it enables proper client management

 “Now, that data lies at their heart of their system and their business, as it enables proper client management, which is seen as a core part of what adviser firms do.

“Importantly, as well as allowing greater depth of knowledge about their clients on an individual basis, by fuller use of their technology they are able to identify client trends on a collective basis. Firms then are able to analyse the trends and so see how they can better serve a certain client group or where there may be other opportunities. It makes for a far more effective business model.”

Eatock admits that one of the criticisms of back-office systems has been that while it is easy to get information on to the system, it is far harder to extract it in any meaningful way.

“So in Intelligent Office we’ve created over 120 templated reports, as well as the means for advisers to define their own reports so adviser firms can get the data out in the way that they want to. Advisers can design their own forms, collect certain information, add their own marketing tags, and so on. It gives a much better access to data than perhaps has been available historically.”

Digital engagement and portals

One of the key trends over the next five years, Eatock says, will be the growth in the use of digital technology to better serve adviser clients – engaging through new channels like return on investment, messaging, video conferencing and giving them the choice to send documents electronically and even signing documents online.

In this respect, client portals will be a primary means of engaging with clients, he says.

“Portals will allow clients access to information and allow them to view their net wealth, through performance data and analysis of their portfolios and the underlying holdings, but also it will be a means for clients to provide advisers with more information about themselves.

“Giving clients access to a client portals means adviser are also able to ask clients to provide more details about themselves than they might through a traditional FactFind process,” he says.

“If you allow people the means to go online and complete the FactFind at their leisure where and when they choose to, then they feel more relaxed about it and you can ask more of them. Importantly, they can find out more about their clients’ finances outside of their investments and pensions.

“This means the adviser’s data is better because it’s more accurate and up to date.”

How much can your technology improve your bottom line?

Just how much adviser technology can improve the bottom line of a business will depend on the extent to which the firm is willing and able to get to grips with its functionality and to use it within the business, Eatock says.

“The Hobson and Company figures illustrate this very clearly. Hobson worked independently of us and what they are really good at is understanding what improvements can be made through use of technology and helping users to articulate what they had actually achieved.

“All too often adviser firms use a back-office system like Intelligent Office and are not aware of the increased efficiencies that they are getting over their previous way of doing things or do not calculate the ROI.

“It’s only when they actually start to analyse it that they realise what they are saving.

“Simple things like cutting down the time taken to prepare suitability reports can have a significant impact in terms of overall resource saved and so costs saved, as well as increased productivity as a result of the freed up time. This can have huge implications for a firm’s expenses and revenue streams and so its bottom line.”

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