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Which comes first – Improving processes, Recalibrating staff, or Implementing technology?

Most advisory firms can tell a story of poor tech adoption, failed attempts to improve a process, or staff management issues. We can tell a different, happier story and share the secret sauce (that isn’t really a secret).

Firm A:
$2.1 billion AUA firm, 14 employees
PROBLEM: The receptionist is spending hours opening trade confirm envelopes, scanning and uploading the documents to a DMS system. The firm isn’t attracting enough qualified leads.
SOLUTION: Log into custodian’s website, bulk download the trade confirms as one, searchable PDF (Adobe), and bulk upload to the document management system. Use the time to do marketing.
TIME SAVED: 1 hour a day
INTERNAL LABOR COST SAVED: $6,250 per year
BENEFITS: More compliant. More business leads.
CONFUSION: What comes first –  implementing the tech, recalibrating the staff responsibilities, or rewriting the process?

Story 2:
$760 million AUM, 14 employees
PROBLEM: The back office person is retiring. Their role was to complete the daily investment account reconciliation, continuously produce investment performance reports, execute trade orders, and mail reports to clients.
SOLUTION: Transition to investment reporting tech and service, start the hiring process for a client service role, and improve back office processes to maximize the use of the new tech tools.
TIME SAVED: 30 hours a week of back office personnel; 5 hours a week of planner
INTERNAL LABOR COST SAVED: $84,375
BENEFITS: Attract more clients as new client servicer offloaded the planner so the planner could focus on business development. Earned more client referrals as 24/7 access, via the client portal, gained clients’ trust and showed that everything is in good order and being actively monitored.
CONFUSION: The tech eliminates 90% of the back office person’s responsibilities, 25% of a planner’s responsibilities, and 10% of the investment manager’s responsibilities. It changes several major processes: investment reporting, client experience, new client on boarding process, rebalancing portfolios, and financial plan preparation. What comes first –  implementing the tech, recalibrating the staff roles, or rewriting the processes?

The secret sauce to prioritizing is already used by many other industries. This secret sauce is helping a growing number of advisory firms experience faster adoption of tech, happier staff, easier hiring, less wasted time and money, and a big boost to their business.

Secret Sauce: Document, Prioritize, Share, Finalize

 

Secret Sauce recipe: 
Document the list of possible improvements (kaizens)
Add in costs (expenses or possible savings)
Identify the staff person that could lead each project (champion)
Define the weeks or months it will take from start to finish (duration)
Prioritize (it will be easier when you see all the data above)
Share with staff
Finalize
Implement

The steps to the secret sauce, aka. elements of project planning, are very similar to the steps to creating a financial plan recommendation or proposal of services. And we all know that clients crave prioritization of financial goals and steps to achieve their goals. Clients want to understand, be able to approve the ideas, and want to be involved in the implementation so they are ‘in control’. Don’t you want the same experience for your business? Aren’t your staff just like your clients – they want to understand, be part of the approval process, and be involved?

Firm A saw the light – they implemented the tech, then revised the process, and shifted the staff’s focus to marketing that resulted in more qualified leads. Firm B saw the light – they recalibrated the roles and starting the hiring process, implemented the tech, and then revised the processes that resulted in more business.

When you are ready to follow the Secret Sauce recipe and offload your swirling mind, you can buy a project management software, use Excel, or wipe boarding. Just remember to take breaks to refresh the mind. Breaks allow your mind and gut to naturally prioritize the initiatives.

 

You will love the clarity that comes from creating a master plan. Good luck and Carpe Diem!

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PS.
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