Financial services has always made some contribution to the decline in the rainforests with its monster use of paper, which is why when I set up Uniq Family Wealth I was keen to play my part in saving a few trees.
Yes, I am talking about how our practices and advice are founded on paper.
Despite having a ‘paperless’ office, we still manage to have boxes of scanned paperwork we hang onto, just in case.
However, with the current lockdown, management of paperwork has been thrown into a fresh light.
First off, with the team working remotely I have been responsible for opening the post each day (after collecting it from the sorting office early in the morning), and I have been amazed at the number of providers who have not taken the opportunity to go digital or make use of email or some sort of technology to save people from collating, printing off and stuffing documents in envelopes; then getting them franked and posted.
And that is just for us. Multiply it by all the other IFA practices and clearly there must be hundreds working still in offices, as I do not know of any companies that have automation or use of robots yet.
For some reason, Prudential and Phoenix are the main offenders, and are unable or unwilling to use email, but insist on sending reams of paper through the post.
Prudential actually sent review documents of one bond that had six plans, almost identical except for the numbers and each one consisting of five sheets, each put in separate envelopes.
How many hours must that have taken? Has no one in those companies ever considered a time/cost exercise or reviewed their processes?
When operating a business, being streamlined is a contributory factor to making it profitable, among the other most obvious things, while maintaining quality.
Even if this has not previously occurred to the management of these large companies, and there are plenty of others I could name, surely with the present lockdown situation and most people working from home someone would wonder if systems should not now change and thereby make the most of this period to reflect on how they can improve?
It is not rocket science, is it?
Marlene Outrim is managing director of Uniq Family Wealth