Blog Post

Advice Efficiency

Speaking the same language

deladz's avatar
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5 months ago

There is one thing I can say for sure: if an adviser doesn’t have trust in their support team, their efficiency levels will drop.

In my 13 years in the industry, I have worked in varying roles across different practices and licenses, and there is one thing I can say for sure: if an adviser doesn’t have trust in their support team, their efficiency levels will drop.

This goes for internal and outsourced paraplanning and administrative support. The number of advisers I meet who have stopped looking for new business, or won’t book in clients for presentations at the fact-finding stage, is staggering. They don’t know when they will be able to present the advice and don’t have trust in their team to produce an advice document in a reasonable time frame.

Of course, there are multiple reasons why timelines remain a massive issue for our industry. But there are other underlying factors that can slow down the conversion of client information and strategy into a concise and compliant advice document – and they all start with how an adviser communicates with their team.

Fortunately, you can start taking steps to address these issues right now. Here are my top three suggestions:

1. Meet face to face (sort of) – You need to be able to see each other. This can be conducted in person or via videoconferencing, but it’s important to (literally) put a face to a name.

It’s all too common in our industry to have emailed and spoken to people for years without any clue who they are or what they look like; they’re basically just an email signature or a voice on the end of the phone. When you meet someone properly, it creates more trust.

It doesn’t matter whether you talk about your weekend or the weather – the important thing is that you’re breaking the ice and creating a humanised relationship. It also means that both sides are more comfortable picking up the phone when there is a query or issue.

This doesn’t mean that every strategy discussion going forward needs to be “face-to-face”, but we all know nothing gets lost in translation as quickly as an email.

2. Make your expectations clear – We are all the most logical people and our process is the one that makes the most sense, right? Well, my company currently works with over 100 advisers and I can confirm that all of their logic and processes vary – often to a significant degree.

Make even your simplest expectations as clear as possible: time frames, how you prefer to communicate, your investment ethos, what you want the advice document to highlight to the clients and so on. No matter how experienced your paraplanner is, they can’t read minds.

Having a “general assumptions'' document can be helpful for ensuring that whoever works with you knows your expectations and preferences. This also helps everyone avoid pitfalls such as the adviser picking up that the surplus cashflow has been modelled as super contributions instead of being spent – right in the middle of a client presentation.

The same rules apply to the paraplanner: make sure your advisers know what information you need upfront. You can spend hours on emails and phone calls clarifying conflicting information or unclear strategies, or you can make your checklist clear from the outset.

Making note of the typical areas missed (and tailoring this to the specific adviser’s problem areas) can be helpful for both parties. No one wants a delayed advice process. If the advisers know what to provide, they most likely will!

3. Feedback feedback feedback – Face-to-face conversations have been had, checklists filled and standard modelling assumptions provided. We should be good to go, right?

Well, just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will trust and efficiency. Feedback from the very start is necessary to make sure the relationship and quality of advice gets where it needs to be, as quickly as possible. What did you like/dislike about the advice document? How did you find the process from start to finish?

Processes and advice documents can be tweaked and adjusted (within reason) to ensure a smooth process for everyone. Telling your paraplanner what the issues were before they become real frustrations is key.

The paraplanner also needs to provide feedback on areas that caused delays or processes that could be streamlined. As outsourced paraplanners, we work across so many different practices and they are always happy to hear what other practices are doing that works. Don’t be nervous to give that feedback to advisers – it helps everyone be more efficient.

Ensure you are open and honest about where you stand and what you require. Good relationships between advisers and paraplanners are essential – especially when things go wrong. As the saying goes, communication is key.

Updated 5 months ago
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