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Different types of systems at work

This article is part of
Guide to Client-Facing Technology

The term ‘back office system’ is one that is becoming rapidly outdated.

Clients want to take control of their financial planning, and be more engaged in the process, so there has been a blurring of the lines between the traditional ‘back office’ and the front office for this to take place.

However, technology remains crucial to robust and efficient practice management which is at the heart of every ‘back office’.

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Client relationship management (CRM) systems allow adviser firms to record and manage every aspect of their client relationships, for example covering on-boarding, terms of business and service level agreements.

But these days Mark Loosmore, UK executive general manager wealth at Iress, says most CRM systems will also provide a client portal capability, allowing clients to view the details held about them and their investments.

Adviser management capability is vital to capture and record the qualifications and experience of a firm’s advisers and to manage their on-going continuous professional development (CPD) activities, Mr Loosmore adds.

He says: “This move to a seamless, integrated front and back office means everyone - advisers, paraplanners, administrators, compliance officers and clients - can access information in a central location and maintain accurate records.

“Alongside these core functions, sit a host of specialist tools, ranging from report writing and risk profiling to stochastic modelling, which automate or semi-automate functions typically performed by advisers and paraplanners, freeing up valuable time to spend with clients.”

Modern client management systems are ‘modular’ solutions, which the end user can configure to meet their specific requirements, our experts noted.

A key driver of adoption of technology today is transaction data relating to investments, says Gary Shepherd, director of business development at Sprint Enterprise Technology Limited.

He says advisers increasingly want to report on performance to their clients.

The need to reduce the time taken to service a client, to be able to provide a consistent and robust reporting solution is paramount, he adds.

Given the range of modules and tools offered by software providers, Simon Bussy, principal consultant of Altus Consulting, says it is likely that the vast majority of adviser firms should be able to find a solution to meet their needs.

Modules may include functionality to:

• aid a compliant advice process, including planning tools;

• support customer relationship management, including offering a white labelled customer portal and document management system;

• provide valuations of plans and whole portfolios; and

• support wider practice management and fees/remuneration.

When assessing the pros and cons of different systems and functions, Mr Bussy says in his experience a pragmatic ‘more adopt, less adapt’ approach is preferable wherever possible, particularly where time to market and budget are important drivers, and the potential changes are not truly differentiating.

He says: “The key is to identify those areas which will make a real difference, and often, working with an objective third party which is not afraid to challenge and offer opinions can provide the focus that’s required, and equally importantly, save significant time and money.”