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Adviser Workshop: How to make your business paperless

There is now more pressure than ever to go green, and businesses are no exception. With this in mind we asked the IFA profession how to achieve completely paperless business.

Gretchen says...

We have an in-house environmental policy. Staff are encouraged to use less paper and more electronic communication, and to reduce their carbon footprint in other ways.

We have a client portal, which is a secure online document area. All client preparation documents for meetings are uploaded onto this, and cashflow figures for them to review. They then return these amended via the portal.

All reports and appendices are uploaded to this portal. In some cases approval is given for recommendations in this way.

This saves paper and, importantly, postage. We have greater successes with some clients than others, based on who is more tech savvy and capable.

As many letters of authority as possible are sent via email, rather than snail mail. Our administrator has researched companies that will accept these via email but we check regularly.

Our main platform does not yet accept electronic signatures for applications. This increases costs for the business in terms of time spent processing and preparing, as well as paper and postage. But we do almost all other things with them online.

Top quote: 

'We constantly look to be more efficient with our time and costs. Many providers are behind when it comes to getting on board with all things digital.'

Top tip:

Use an online portal for clients.

Gretchen Betts is managing director of Magenta Financial Planning

Gretchen says...

We have an in-house environmental policy. Staff are encouraged to use less paper and more electronic communication, and to reduce their carbon footprint in other ways.

We have a client portal, which is a secure online document area. All client preparation documents for meetings are uploaded onto this, and cashflow figures for them to review. They then return these amended via the portal.

All reports and appendices are uploaded to this portal. In some cases approval is given for recommendations in this way.

This saves paper and, importantly, postage. We have greater successes with some clients than others, based on who is more tech savvy and capable.

As many letters of authority as possible are sent via email, rather than snail mail. Our administrator has researched companies that will accept these via email but we check regularly.

Our main platform does not yet accept electronic signatures for applications. This increases costs for the business in terms of time spent processing and preparing, as well as paper and postage. But we do almost all other things with them online.

Top quote: 

'We constantly look to be more efficient with our time and costs. Many providers are behind when it comes to getting on board with all things digital.'

Top tip:

Use an online portal for clients.

Gretchen Betts is managing director of Magenta Financial Planning

Jane says...

When we set up Money Honey, we vowed to be completely paperless. We do not even have a printer, so I spend a lot of time arguing with product providers about why I have to send pieces of paper with signatures on.

Product providers need to do online applications, accept digital signatures in some shape or form, and find a secure messaging mechanism, rather than sending bits of post out. If they could get that sussed in a paperless fashion, every adviser could cut their costs.

I work mainly with providers that are already paperless. I make enough of a fuss with those that are not, that more now accept things via different mediums. 

Advice firms looking to go paperless need solid infrastructure. We work on Office 365 and use teams to make sure that, as a business, we can collaborate on anything without being in the same office or even the same country. Everyone in the company is working on the same synchronised system.

With clients, we use Intelligent Office. As soon as a prospect signs up with us, we put them onto their own client portal. All communication and information is exchanged securely via that portal.

Top quote:

'The Law Society says digital signatures are completely legal and acceptable when dealing with providers.'

Top tip:

Do not be afraid to lobby providers to persuade them to go paperless.

Jane Hodges is managing director of Money Honey Financial Planning

What the Twittersphere thinks...

We asked advisers on Twitter what the solution to going paperless was, and they had this to say:

Comment & analysis

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