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Opportunity amidst the pandemic

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As much as the industry is improving its professionalism, financial advice remains “cottage.” There are many providers, in many forms, located all across the country. This trend is only accelerating as the major banks and financial institutions finalise their exits from the industry. We all do business and deliver advice in different ways with very little collaboration between advice firms to improve their offerings. But boy, do we need it.

The nature of the industry is somewhat reflected in the nature of technology and outsourcing platforms available to financial advisers. There are very few truly integrated platforms or systems that work seamlessly together. Our businesses require copious log-ins and manual inputs which simply increase bottlenecks; something I’m sure we are all feeling more than ever during the pandemic.

With the pandemic-driven lockdowns in Melbourne at least soon coming to an end, we are running out of time to make those business-altering changes at the back of our minds. So here are four key changes you can implement to make your life easier when you return to the office, based on first-hand experience:

    1. Digitise your data collection: The days of sending a physical risk profile questionnaire and client information gathering document are dead. As evidenced by the incredible growth of Microsoft Inc. in 2020 alone, it’s time for advisers to move online.
      • Risk profiling – On the risk profiling side, global leader FinaMetrica, which is now part of Morningstar, has been gaining traction in Australia. It has a straightforward interface, can be hosted completely on mobiles and desktops, and allows customisation for individual advice groups. Pocket Risk and True Profile are two alternatives that have been gaining traction in Australia with the sole purpose of allowing advisers to make stronger connections with their clients.
      • Information gathering – The client fact-find sector has seen even more competition enter as advisers seek to reduce their reliance on the monopolistic XPLAN platform. Ultimately the options depend on the type of clients you work with and how you deliver your service. Astute Wheel has quickly gained a strong reputation for its combination of digital fact-finds and engaging modelling tools. My Prosperity and iFactFind are also attracting a growing number of advisers.
    2. Move your engagement online: The obligations of financial advisers continue to grow, whether it is more regular opt-in requirements, the need for informed consent, or appropriate record-keeping. With face-to-face meetings remaining unlikely for some time in Melbourne, and probably likely to be less regular around Australia in 2020, moving the engagement process online is even more important. While many of us, including our clients, still prefer paper-based applications and signatures, moving online is much more efficient, secure and transparent. Most importantly, it is immediate. As highlighted above, Astute Wheel offers a number of quotation and ongoing service agreement tools, which can be authorised online, but by far the leaders are global players Docu Sign and Adobe. Docu Sign offers business packages allowing you to send your annual and quarterly reviews or even your regular client communications via its platform. The platform is even able to inform you if an email has been opened and not yet approved.
    3. Increase your advice but reduce your work: This has been standard practice for the major financial institutions for many years, building custom statement of advice and record of advice templates that streamline the delivery of advice. The regulators have made it clear that SOAs have become unruly, hence the simplification of advice has never been more important. There are a number of outsourced providers who can work within and alongside XPLAN to build every template you need, with the upfront investment of several thousand dollars, paying for itself in a very short space of time. Well-known names in the sector include Enzumo, YTML and Nod. These templated documents can support a move to more regular portfolio reviews, from annual to quarterly, without the hassle of preparing individual records of advice from scratch. 
    4. Find a new platform: The platform sector has never been more competitive and continues to offer great benefits to advisers and clients alike. The exit of the banks from Wealth Management has forced their associated superannuation platforms to streamline, offer better services and most importantly, cut their fees. There are at least fifteen worthy platforms operating on the market, with each one offering unique differences for advisers; Praemium and Power Wrap, for instance, are suited to those with larger clients and more alternative investments, or alternative managed discretionary accounts. Hub 24 has a flexible and cost-effective superannuation solution, while the major players like BT Panorama and AMP have spent the last few years cutting their fees.

    We would love to hear your feedback on the changes you have been making to your business to come out the other side of this pandemic in better shape than ever.

     


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