Is Your Existing Software Up To The job? - 3 Musts To Consider
In March 2021, Owen James published the results of their regular ‘Wealth Tech Matters ’ survey. It showed that 69% of firms are focused on improving their operational efficiency. In addition, 62% said they are looking to bring down the cost of constructing and delivering advice.
Therefore, financial advice and wealth management firms are increasingly looking to technology to help them become more productive. However, before you lift up the bonnet on your existing software to see what can be done to improve it, we recommend you consider three important factors:
1. What will your firm be doing in 5 years time?
What will your firm be like in 5 years time? Chances are it will be a lot different from what it is right now. It was Bill Gates that famously said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Therefore, don't let yourself be lulled into inaction”. It is therefore imperative to have technology that can evolve with you to help you implement the changes that are either required or desired.
The problem facing advice firms is that most of the current so-called ‘leading’ adviser Back Office software solutions are built on technology that is 15-20 years old. They were built for a pre-RDR world. Therefore, they are great for handling transactions, but ill-equipped to support firms in operating in a way that puts their clients front and centre of everything. These current systems are even more ill-equipped when you look beyond the ‘now’ and consider what a future advice firm may look like.
So what may this future look like? Well, there is no doubt data will increasingly become an advice firm’s most valuable asset. Therefore, you need to ensure that your technology enables you to extract powerful insights from your data to drive innovation, create competitive advantage, and to deliver personalised client engagement opportunities more effectively.
Furthermore, as competition increases and new low-cost advice providers such as Vanguard enter the market, the pressure to reduce the cost of advice will intensify. And what about the new generation of wealth accumulators and investors; their expectations on how to access products and services will be quite different from the way most advice firms currently engage clients. Therefore, over time, your firm may be required to offer a range of advice and service propositions including, traditional advice, execution-only, ‘ask-the-adviser’, hybrid advice, and fully automated (robo) models.
‘Future-proofed technology’ is a phrase quoted in many a tech firm’s marketing literature, but one should question the validity of such claims. It is why we have teamed up with Microsoft to create CURO, a modern end-to-end financial advice and wealth management solution. CURO is built on Microsoft’s strategic CRM platform, Dynamics 365. As such, it benefits from an annual product investment of circa $2bn. Therefore, we believe that CURO is the nearest thing you can get to a guaranteed future proofed technology solution. It is also why we believe it to be the only viable solution available for those advice firms that want to equip themselves for the future.
2. Digital transformation - think big, start small, but just start!
For some advice firms, digital transformation has become more than a way of remaining competitive, it has become necessary for survival. However, digitalisation is not simply taking what you currently do on paper and in spreadsheets and ‘computerising’ it. It is about transforming current processes so that they either no longer need to be done or they are improved so that they yield greater productivity and operational efficiencies.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also brought to fore the need for modern technology that helps advisers deliver effective remote advice. In a recent Citywire article entitled, IFAs flock to new firms as many aggrieved at Covid handling, leading IFA recruiter, Tony Bates from Idex Consulting, says he has seen a recent spike in business of 43%, as IFAs seek to switch companies. Tony cites; “some firms don’t have the tech needed to do the job and IFAs are leaving because of that”.
Therefore, digital transformation is also about providing your staff with the right tools to do their job well, to collaborate with colleagues and clients more effectively. Ultimately, it is about delivering better outcomes for your clients. It is important to recognise that digital transformation is a journey and therefore, as with every journey, it starts with a first step - our advice is to think big, start small, but start!
3. Find out what your clients value most about your serviceIf you are looking to improve efficiency or increase productivity, it is important to focus on the things that deliver most value. In our view, this means focusing on improving those processes that deliver the most value to your clients. For example, are you enabling your clients to engage more fully and directly with their investments and your services? This does beg the question as to whether you are clear on what really does matter to your clients? If you are unsure, ask them and find out - you may be surprised at their answers.
Finally, we will leave the last few words to some of our clients:
Lucas Fettes Financial Planning, Jane Hudson FPFS
“CURO is flexible and future proofed CRM technology which allows us to personalise the service delivery to our clients on a scalable basis. It also provides integration with a large number of our key business partners, helping to support our digital evolution.”
Prydis Wealth, James Priday
“We have drastically improved the efficiency and quality of our processes since adopting CURO and feel that we have a much better control over everyday operations and compliance. It is built on Microsoft Dynamics giving us the confidence that the system will continue to improve and benefit from the vast resources and ecosystem of Microsoft.”