A lot has changed in the last 30 years, most of all technology.
Remember the days that mobile phones looked like bricks and were reserved for the wealthy and important? Now it is considered unusual if you do not have the latest mobile phone. We can check emails all hours of the day or night, make notes during conferences without pen and paper, and have instant access at all times to a calendar.
Depending on your perspective, technology seems to have streamlined, or hindered, our lives. from an adviser’s perspective there is no doubt that this evolution has enabled them to streamline processes and be more efficient in doing their jobs.
For example, sending mailing lists was a laborious task in the early 80s. According to Ian Lowes, managing director of Lowes Financial Management, advisers would have to photocopy a pre-typed batch of addresses onto labels, stick the labels on the front of the envelope and non-personalised letters would have to be photocopied.
All that has now changed, with the rise of databases, platforms and software; all built from the ground up in the last thirty years. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of changes in the systems and processes advisers are now using.
What are the options?
Altus Consulting says there are four major players in the core back office market: Iress, Intelliflo, Time4Advice and Focus Solutions, with Iress leading the market in terms of market share. There are also specific systems and services offering everything from product comparison to performance data.
Simon Bussy, Altus’s senior consultant, notes some suppliers have broadened their footprint and can no longer be pigeon-holed as purely back office systems. “They now offer a more engaging client management system and other functionality.”
Jo Gilbey, marketing director at Intelliflo, believes the best-web based systems have now morphed into full business management ‘eco-systems’, which are not compartmentalised into front, middle and back office functions.
“They provide a seamless way to service clients, manage all processes from lead generation and marketing, fact finding, regulatory reporting, accessing accurate MI, to tracking fees and income – all the elements that are essential for running a professional, profitable financial advice business.”
Other capabilities of back office systems include only entering client and policy data once, providing a single view of client holdings, supporting payments and management information requirements as well as a reduction in compliance and therefore professional indemnity insurance premiums.
Mr Bussy says: “Each adviser follows a very robust and consistent adviser sales and servicing process, built to meet customer needs and importantly, FCA requirements (e.g aligning the investment proposition to the client’s risk profile, investment time horizon and proposed asset mix.”
What do you want to achieve?
Chris Baigent-Reed, consulting director at Jigsaw Tree, says that when they first talk to firms who may need to replace a customer management system, the first port of call is finding out what an adviser’s technology strategy is.