As an important element of the research completed for Brokers Ireland on “The Evolution of the Broker Market 2030”, we identified 12 areas to be considered by Financial Brokers to help prepare your business for the changing market environment. In this next instalment, we look at the importance of digitalisation.
As Financial Brokers will seek to scale up and/or take cost out of their businesses, developing more efficient and effective processes will be critical, with digitalisation at the heart of your improvements.
The COVID pandemic showed what can be achieved through digital adoption. Almost overnight Financial Brokers moved their meetings to remote meeting platforms, a move that had been dismissed previously as never being acceptable to clients. Today, many clients prefer the efficiency of remote meetings. Also, very quickly the ability to use digital signature technology was accepted by providers and rolled out by Brokers, again aiding efficiency.
But there’s a long way to go and for most Financial Brokers, these technology improvements need to be developed at an industry level. The advice process improved hugely with the introduction of cash flow planning technology, but the reality is that there has been only marginal technological enhancement over the last decade.
But this does not give Financial Brokers a free pass! Every process, from prospect engagement, client onboarding, your advice process, your ongoing customer support processes and right through your ancillary business processes should be regularly reviewed and digital improvements sought. By utilising solutions already within your customer relationship management (CRM) system and those available from product providers, there are many opportunities to develop more effective processes and increase engagement with clients. These digital enhancements may include things like:
- enabling contacts to submit partly pre-qualified enquiries and to book meetings in your diary
- using digital factfinds and application processes
- regular reporting to clients on policies and performance via your CRM system
- enabling clients to self-serve through client portals
- utilising email software for client newsletters and other updates.
Financial Brokers themselves identified compliance as their biggest challenge of the future. This always requires ongoing care and attention. Within this, GDPR is a challenge for Brokers that could become more significant in the future. Customer data requests could become a significant overhead, with excellent standards in relation to filing of information and emails etc. making these easier to manage.
Taking account of growth ambitions and achieving efficient scale within a business, outsourcing is an alternative model to in-house resources. In either case, Financial Brokers will recognise that their value is in front of clients, and that is where their time needs to be spent. While it is prudent to seek to achieve efficient scale through recruiting for key support roles, there is likely to also be growth over the coming years in third party outsourcing of services such as paraplanning, compliance, marketing etc.
Action points for you
- Examine every process within your business, identify areas for improvement and put a plan in place to achieve them.
- Examine efficiencies in the advice process across your business, and identify where digitalisation can play a role in an improved client experience at potentially lower time / cost.
- Maintain a highly structured approach to compliance.
- When you are clear about the efficient scale you wish to achieve, evaluate each individual process in terms of remaining in-house or not.