We’ve covered the providers and trends within the world of back office systems, but what about the actual advisers using them on the front lines?
FTAdviser spoke to four different advisory firms to get a sense of which systems they use - and which they don’t - and why.
Darren Arnup, office manager at Almary Green Investments
The Norwich-based IFA uses Intelligent Office from Intelliflo, a system selected after sending out questionnaires to various providers at the end of last year, based on deficiencies identified and additional requirements.
“IO has helped us to ensure that work is processed in more of a prescribed way – so that procedures have to be followed otherwise the income cannot be added to the record,” states Mr Arnup.
“Income reconciliation has been significantly quicker and slicker than previously, with the EDI [Electronic Data Interchange] statements generally reconciling themselves in the main, and the fact that our bank receipts can be imported to the system to provide a check that the money has actually reached our account, has reduced or highlighted errors along the way.”
The internet-based system has also helped the firm’s ‘green’ aspirations, as advisers can access the systems wherever they are, provided there is an internet connection, and scanned documents have been move to cloud storage.
“It is not perfect by any means, and there are some aspects that we are either waiting for or pushing for, but it has made a significant difference to the way that we work and appears to be a massive investment for the future growth of the business.”
Daren O’Brien, director at Aurora Financial Solutions
The London-based adviser uses a Microsoft Word-based system for all file storage, inputting the financials into spreadsheets specifically designed by its accountants. “Therefore we haven’t brought an off the shelf package or any ongoing licences that we’d be tied into for ever,” Mr O’Brien adds.
“We’ve previously used three to four software packages between us at other firms and none seem to do the full job, as well as helping with the data needed for the FCA reporting requirements.
“They do seem to create work, rather than be a tool for simplification, and with most clients on some form of online system or platform, we can run reports using that companies’ report writing services.”
Mr O’Brien adds that when the firm was established, the directors did not want to pay another software firm for back-office support when a junior could be employed at almost the same cost.
“We don’t feel that our system stops our client focus at meetings and all documents are available from our server with a simple internet link from anywhere anyway.
“It may not be “cutting edge” but it works and everyone here knows how our systems work. I’m not convinced that an outsourced data storage system would save too much time for us, but I do know that it would definitely add to our costs and our clients charges.”