The better you know and understand your clients needs, aspirations and relevant financial information, the better you are able to provide them with an outstanding service.
Generally, in order to ‘know your client,’ you need to learn and hold information about them. This data (it should go without saying) should be updated regularly and be accurate at the point of entry. The key is then understanding how it’s used.
"Technology gives you the ability to draw real meaning from the data your business holds."
We haven’t always had the tools to properly interrogate client data, meaning that it would often simply be viewed at an individual client level, probably at the time of meeting that client. Technology has dramatically changed the value of this data by giving you the ability to draw real meaning from the data your business holds.
Data is the differentiator
In fact, we believe data - quality, analysis and optimisation - is going to emerge as a real differentiator for advice businesses in the coming months.
For instance, a function within XPLAN - Alerts Manager - can help you unlock and make best use of data and enable you to proactively engage with your clients at key decision points, eg at annual reviews or as they approach retirement or as policies are due for renewal. You could agree with clients during onboarding, which are the significant life stages that matter most to them such as when children are either due to start university.
How Alerts Manager works
Alerts Manager is managed within XPLAN’s Administration Functions, under ‘Alerts Manager’ and allows you to create searches based on criteria specified by you and then acts as your ‘personal assistant’. It automatically notifies you according to a schedule, pre-determined by you, of clients meeting the specific criteria for each alert.
For example, you might want to proactively contact and potentially have advice discussions with all your clients who are approaching retirement age but do not yet have agreed income plans in place.
"Data - quality, analysis and optimisation - is going to emerge as a real differentiator for advice businesses in the coming months."
The first step is to define the criteria that you wish to search on - eg ‘all clients within six months of reaching age 60’ combined with ‘all clients who have not discussed retirement options in the last 12 months’. You then create the Alert and set how and when you want to review it.
Using the Primary & Schedule tab in XPLAN, you can select any preferred notification methods and rules surrounding the Alert. For example, do you want the Alert to by sent via email to a specific person in the firm? How often do you want this Alert to run? For some firms, this may be managed by the paraplanner or office manager who will be able to use Alerts Manager to explore potential opportunities for the adviser.
It is also possible to automate workflow on the back of the Alert process. So, if the paraplanner is managing Alerts, they could have created a ‘Retirement Alert’ to run every quarter, setting themselves the first task to review the search results and from there, create a task or thread which will trigger automated tasks for the adviser.
"Created and used correctly, data is incredibly powerful. But it doesn’t happen by chance."
Alerts can help support your compliance processes, eg by setting up different compliance based searches in Alerts Manager you can demonstrate your risk management capabilities to Professional Indemnity insurers. It can also be used for triggers and prompts in other areas of your business, in addition to creating opportunities to engage with clients and compliance, such as portfolio monitoring.
Quality data counts
However you use Alerts, this tool can greatly improve efficiency and support advice businesses in delivering a streamlined, professional and personalised experience to their clients. But the extent to which you are able to exploit this potential will be determined by the quality of the data you hold and how you interrogate it.
Created and used correctly, data is incredibly powerful. But it doesn’t happen by chance. The outcome will always depend directly on what you put in and the instructions you give. Clarity, consistency and a decent understanding of your material is a good starting point in creating a meaningful framework for actionable and impactful answers and helping to know your customer.
Automation - particularly of time-consuming, manual tasks, will play an increasingly key role in supporting advice practices through the effective engagement and servicing of their client base and take opening up a broader range of potential advice opportunities. It’s worth remembering, however, that data underpins all of this, with data quality and integration both holding the key to unlocking the opportunities.
A version of this article first appeared in Professional Paraplanner, UK.
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