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Using technology for advice management

Good advice management is like travelling with a suitcase, suggests Sara Rowe, senior solutions consultant, IRESS. She uses XPLAN’s functionality to illustrate her point

Wouldn’t it be great if running a successful advice business simply required the delivery of quality financial advice? But, we all know that there’s a great many demands on your time such as the coordination and planning needed to ensure advice is timely and cost effective as well as appropriate and good quality.

There’s often a number of different teams and individuals working across the advice process, requiring robust management around the sharing, collating and storing of information, to ensure you have the required evidence that the advice was produced in the right way with the right client outcomes in mind.

This is where technology can really add value, in streamlining the non-client-facing, non-revenue-generating elements of providing advice. This is where your Advice Management software moves centre stage.

With XPLAN, you can utilise the ‘Case Management’ functionality which aims to bring process and artefact (such as a factfind) collation together. A case is made up of two parts, the workflow that provides task guidance throughout the advice journey and the ‘Case Benchmark’ set which is the collation of the multiple artefacts of the advice.

I often describe a case as being like a suitcase to new XPLAN users. One that holds all of the items that are relevant whilst the ‘person’ carrying the suitcase along its journey is the workflow. There are standard cases that you can utilise either with or without workflow; or you have the tools within XPLAN to create your own.

How cases can be used

A case can be activated right at the start of the advice journey either manually or automatically by another task or process.

Let’s walk through an imaginary case;  as early as the prospecting stage you can start to collate those initial appointments and conversations into a case. The adviser then updates a lead, and this gets linked automatically. (This in turn can help with MI to understand the connection between leads and advice provided).

Next, the adviser starts the KYC process by producing a client factfind. This could include online partial self-completion by the client or the adviser completing this on paper. Once the factfind is ready, it’s captured using the ‘print’ command and auto saves to the client’s record within a ‘Doc Note’. The same can be done for the ATR and identity verification documents.

All roles in the business can be given permission to add and link items to a case for the part of the advice journey they are responsible for, however ultimate ownership remains with the adviser for them to check before completion and to stay on track. The benchmarks are listed in a handy red or green status where, when all is green, all is complete!

Once a case is complete, a feature called ‘Audit Sample Manager’ can be utilised to locate relevant cases for compliance checking on a schedule of your choice. This function allows a compliance officer to specify criteria for case selection such as ‘Adviser Gradings’, ‘Client Vulnerability’, ‘High Risk Business’ (and more), for XPLAN to locate a sample of cases for checking, also scheduling workflow for compliance checkers.

You can use cases without using the audit sample feature but should you wish to utilise this, these checks can be set up under ‘Audit Sample Manager’ within ‘Administration Functions’.

If details later change, you don’t lose the history of the advice or have to rely on keeping paper records. Anyone in the firm can access the case either within the client’s ‘Cases’ area or in ‘Case Summary’ and follow the links, using the chain link icon, to a snapshot of the data that existed at the time of the advice.

Set up your cases

There are three stages to creating a case in XPLAN. You can build your own by going to XPLAN > Administration Functions > Case Benchmarks. A ‘case benchmark’ enables you to capture and link the required documentary evidence associated with the advice process.  The first step is to create the individual items; such as the factfind, KYC or ID verification outlined above).

Having created the individual benchmarks, you can collate them into a set, selecting each benchmark in turn to the set using the ‘plus’ button.

The third step is to create a case thread. This is created in the same way as any other workflow thread.

Once a case thread is created, with or without underlying workflow tasks, the case benchmark set can be linked to the case thread. It’s generally advisable to name both of these the same for ease of use, but you can add the one benchmark set to multiple process threads if required. Once connected, you’re ready to go!

Going with the Workflow

Workflow in XPLAN is extremely comprehensive, yet flexible. It allows you to build and manage a realistic process. Tasks can be driven by the outcomes of other tasks, they can be role dynamic, be assigned to groups or even benchmark the average time spent. All of these are settings within the thread and underlying tasks themselves.

And that’s the end of our journey through XPLAN’s Case Management. If you’ll forgive me continuing the suitcase analogy, imagine you now have a beautifully packed case, with a place for everything and everything in its place.

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