Unlocking the potential of your back-office (part 1 of 2)
You can unlock the potential of your back-office with a well implemented digital strategy, introducing a client portal to provide the interface between you and your clients.
This series of articles will help you understand the technology choices you need for your firm and how best to implement those choices.
Let’s talk about what back-office systems are good for:
1) Client Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM allows you to track all contact with clients throughout your business by email, letters (printed and pdf), telephone calls, face to face meetings etc. CRM records the sales process and builds into the compliance audit trail. It is effectively an electronic filing cabinet.
2) New business register
The sales process hopefully concludes with the successful outcome of writing new business. A sales process, probably better referred to as a case, can give rise to none, one or more items of new business, each of which needs to be tracked through to completion, ensuring all the relevant paperwork is completed and submitted, acknowledged and accepted.
Adviser back-office systems allow you to build template workflows and track these workflows through your system, providing team views and supervisory functions to ensure all work is completed and prompting for work outstanding when it is overdue. Completed work feeds into the compliance audit trail.
4) Document management
A lot of documents are created as part of the workflow for clients and these need to be recorded as part of the compliance audit trail. A good back-office makes document management easy by attaching documents to workflow and ensuring they can’t be edited after the fact providing a compliance audit trail.
5) Commission & fee reconciliation
Getting paid for the work is very important and adviser systems allow you to calculate commission and fees due and record time spent either to generate a fee or to help justify the commission/fee charged and work out the profitability of a case. Payaways to consultants and third parties can also be tracked.
6) Management information
If it’s measured, it’s managed! This was my FD’s favourite saying and in case of a back-office system is probably the most important fact to ensure your system has reliable data in it. There are many firms who have a back-office system then run their income reconciliation on excel spreadsheets because they can’t trust the data in the back-office. This is madness! If you rely on separate spreadsheets then the only accurate data in your firm will be the spreadsheets and the back-office data will become quickly out-of-date and irrelevant. Your accounts department needs to rely on accurate data in the back-office and this, in turn, forces consistent and reliable data into the back-office.
Back-office systems are good at new business tracking, compliance and management reporting assuming you rely on the data to run your business. If your system is efficiently doing these six things for your firm then you are probably getting the best out of it.
This is a two-part article and in the second part, I will discuss what back-office systems don’t do so well and why having a one technology supplier strategy is unlikely to give you the benefits you’re aiming for.