The idea that productivity, sales etc, can be substantially improved, even revolutionised by the use of technology has been around for a long time, so long in fact that many of us have become rather cynical about claims of this nature.
I think part of the cause of this is the notion that all one needs to do is purchase whatever the hot new gizmo or software product is, turn it on and hey presto, the revolution occurs. Of course life isn’t like that, and yet, used effectively, technology is delivering real results for advisers, especially in the front office arena.
Distribution Technology recently ran a survey of its adviser users which produced some very positive results. Respondents told us that cross sales, value per case and numbers of cases had all increased between 16%-18% thanks to the use of front office technology and around 80% said it helped them deliver client revenues.
So how can others achieve these, and greater, benefits? It starts by understanding what you want to achieve; for example, are you looking move from a transactional model to an assets under management model, as is the vogue for investment advisers at present? What role will financial planning, as opposed to one or a series of advisory interactions with clients, play? Are you looking for technology to play a role in helping you demonstrate that you treat your customers fairly? What is crucial is that you have clear goals in mind prior to making the key decisions about what to use and how it fits into your advisory process.
How you fit any new piece of technology into your advice process is another key determinant of whether or not it will succeed in delivering benefits for your business. Merely dropping a new piece of technology into an existing process is unlikely to work. What will is a consideration of how to leverage the benefits of the new technology in support of your objective.
Finally, although the manufacturers of new advice technology spend a great deal of time making them easy to use, there is an inevitable trade off between richness of functionality and ease of use. The more it does, and the more control it gives you, the more learning how to use it matters. Therefore it is important to take the time to learn to use what you implement effectively, whether this includes taking advantage of any training offered or simply reading the manual.
If you follow these steps, you are well on your way to leveraging the significant benefits that the successful implementation of technology can offer.
Simon Farrant is head of financial planning at Distribution TechnologyIFAonline
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