Director, Fund Management
We use the customer relationship management (CRM) system Intelliflo. It cuts out a few steps in the process and saves time. The best part is that it is cloud based.
Intelliflo pulls in evaluations from providers and produces reports.
I wish there was a platform with CRM built into it.
Learn the systems
We use Defaqto, which is a research tool. By using this, within half an hour we have a data trail that shows we have looked at all the available platforms for pension and life investments.
Defaqto reports are great for the more technical clients, who want to see figures mapped out.
There are only two of us at the firm, myself and an administrator, so we are not using these kinds of tools on as a regular basis as a big firm might.
It can take time to get used to the processes, but they help you save time in the long run.
It is important to make efficiencies in the firm, but technology companies overestimate how easy some of the software is to use. Then they charge you for training, which is a bit naughty when you have already paid for the product.
Free up time for clients
It is difficult to quantify the benefits to the business, but I was very busy two years ago and my business has grown 20% every year since then. I am still as busy but I now have more clients, so using the new software has definitely helped.
The client employs an IFA to look after them, not so they can fill out endless reports, so any time saved by me is time not charged to the client.
We have invested in technology with the aim of only inputting data from each client once and then using it in a number of ways.
Make data access easy
We have built custom-made web forms that clients can use to enter their information. We have tried using that data in different ways, such as automatic money-laundering checks and sending out our terms of business to the client.
In the past few months we have included expenditure and asset liability data on our forms and now send that to our cashflow modelling system, Voyant.
It is important to have a good back-office system. We use Curo, which is based on Microsoft but has been adapted. Client data is stored here and it is easy to access.
Make time for soft planning
Curo indirectly helps the client because it gives us more time to talk to them about their aspirations and for us to do more soft planning, which we all enjoy.
It is too early to say whether using Curo in this way makes us more profitable, but it is useful to have the data available on the types of clients we are working with.
The challenge now is to get bigger legacy companies such as Abbey Life, Phoenix and Aviva to communicate with new technologies. They do not seem equipped to make them work.
Recently I bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet. This allows me to take handwritten notes during a meeting and converts it to typed text afterwards.
Managing director, Wealth & Tax Management
Paid-for back-office systems are not very good. We use free technology, such as tools provided by Google and Skype.
By integrating these, I can now run the whole business from my iPhone.
We are aiming to be paperless. It is important to look for ways to make these improvements. Paper is massively inefficient. Clients do not want to be lumbered with lots of paperwork.
We use a product called DocuSign, which allows clients to sign documents electronically. This means they do not have to wait for documents to come through the post and then pay for postage to return what they have signed.
Our clients can access our diaries online so they can choose their own meeting times, which is much more convenient for them.
Keep the human touch
You do not always need to meet face to face for review meetings, and we conduct meetings over Skype where suitable, but it is important not to lose the human touch.
We care about the service we offer each individual. Too many big businesses do not; they care about profit more than anything else.
There are many benefits to using free tools, but IT consultants will tell you otherwise, as it is in their interest to sell you their software products.
Efficiencies and automation bring many positives, but the best tool is good service because clients will recognise that and more business will follow.
THREE TOP TIPS
Ian Head: Use a cloud-based CRM system.
David Bashforth: Find a way to input client data only once.
Tony Byrne: Use electronic documents and online signing.