Part of running an advice company in the 21st century is being able to implement the right systems and technology that can aid the smooth running of your business and support your clients.
But when an adviser’s talent lies in working with those clients to establish and reach their financial goals rather than specialising in technology, selecting a back office system that is going to help operations rather than hinder them can seem a daunting prospect.
Financial advisers tend to pick from a small group of back-office systems - those provided by Intelliflo or Iress, for example.
But there are lessons to learn from a variety of different providers.
Aditya Arora, managing director of Teleperformance India, a provider of customer experience management, explains the importance of choosing the right system.
“The customer journey lifecycle owes its success to three elements – an excellent customer experience, quick and precise back office execution, and the infrastructure to support it,” he says. “As the engine of any organisation, back office systems can be traced back to each step of the customer lifecycle.”
He refers to a figure from a Capgemini report, Backing up the digital back office: Digitizing the banking back office, which states that 60 per cent of customer dissatisfaction originates in this vital area of a business.
“Financial advice companies should therefore be aiming to optimise and enhance internal processes that will enable them to become more agile in responding to customers’ needs,” Arora adds.
When it is time to implement a new back office system, or upgrade your existing one, advisers should be looking for features that save them time, according to Conor Murphy, chief executive of end-to-end mortgage platform Smartr365.
“Broadly, these break down into features that put the client in charge of the process and let them ‘self-complete’ lots of the work,” Mr Murphy says.
This can include slick online fact-finding processes that automatically populate data into different steps of an application and processes to verify ID, address and income, and transfer all supporting documentation.
“On the other side, you have processes that directly automate adviser tasks,” says Mr Murphy. “Things like automated client emails, which manage communications on behalf of the adviser, along with integrations and API connections with third parties, which remove the need for brokers to key data.”
But what does ‘good’ look like in a back office system?
For Mark Trousdale, chief growth officer at InvestCloud, which provides financial digital solutions, the “ideal digital platform” is one that integrates with front, middle and back office applications seamlessly.
“Even where applications are separate, data needs to be able to flow seamlessly between systems,” Mr Trousdale adds.
“Data is continually captured across all steps of the client lifecycle – from risk profiling, goal setting, and advice delivery to implementation, valuation, performance and reporting, to name a few.”