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Future Fit Advice

Business case study: How technology can help grow your business

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6 months ago

Discover how one adviser automated his practice to better serve clients and build a thriving business

Increased automation not only helps to create successful advice businesses, it can also transform the availability of advice to potential small and single-issue clients.

This might sound like wishful thinking but Mat Tenison, who has worked in the advice industry for 20 years, believes it’s not only possible but also not far away.

“Advisers definitely need to embrace new technologies as much as possible, as it’s going to create big changes in our industry,” says Tenison who founded TiK Financial Group.

“This is particularly the case given the growing investment by big technology players as they up their game. Financial services is an area that’s lagging when it comes to the introduction of automation for many routine processes. But that’s changing now and it’s well overdue.”

Building the business

It’s a philosophy Tenison has taken to heart in building his thriving advice business based in Sydney’s northern beaches.

He has made significant investments in digital tools designed to improve the efficiency of routine processes and client service delivery.

“The changes in our processes over the past few years have been huge. It hasn’t been easy introducing more automation and new digital tools, but it’s a key part of creating the kind of business I wanted to run,” says Tenison.

Streamlining and future-proofing his administration and client-servicing processes means the practice now uses a variety of different tools in its technology stack, including Xplan, AstuteWheel, DocuSign and Zoom.

The collection of web applications and digital tools is fully integrated to meet the changing needs of the business.

“We are continually looking at new options and ways to make things easier for our clients and to ensure we have the business running efficiently,” Tenison says.

He believes a continuous process of technological improvement is essential for any well-run advice practice wanting to survive and prosper in the current environment.

“Ten years ago, advisers were sending out 20- or 30-page fact finds and clients were not using them. No one wanted to deal with a document like that, or manually enter it into a practice’s internal systems.

“Now, with the technology for online fact finds, we are seeing significant improvements in our personal efficiencies within the practice,” he says.

“New digital tools might take a long time to set up, but they speed things up so much and make both the administration and compliance processes within the practice a lot quicker.”

More focus on strategy

Tenison notes the advice industry’s dramatic change from a strong emphasis on product, to one where strategy drives the advice process.

“Over my years in the industry, I’ve seen it move a long way from being product-based to having more of a strategic focus when working with clients,” he says.

This change also reflects the demands of his client base, which range from younger accumulators wanting help to build and protect wealth for the future, through to a large group of pre-retirees and retirees.

“We focus on how we can help set up our clients for the future. That means considering areas like cash flow, how to manage their finances, how to invest and wealth protection,” he says.

The importance of being able to efficiently deliver both advice and implementation services to his clients is not lost on Tenison, who says being able to help people and see the difference good advice can make to their lives was the reason he entered the profession.

“With the right digital tools in the practice, that can be our focus, rather than the administration and compliance side of things, which is seen to deliver little value to our clients,” he says.

Strengthening client engagement and service delivery

Tenison believes the introduction of appropriate digital tools builds greater client engagement at every stage of the advice process.

“All the tools and calculators that are now available can help clients see the value of your advice as it’s being presented to them. This is so much more engaging than being presented with an 80-page document to read,” he says.

Changes to the regulatory environment and the arrival of innovations like video statements of advice are also likely to have a significant impact and could remake the face of the advice process.

“These new ways of delivering advice and client service are fantastic. Currently, clients usually come out of the advice process with a huge document and then a few months down the track they can’t remember why they are doing something, or what the benefits are of the advice they received,” Tenison says.

“New ways of delivering advice will help clients remember why they are doing it and the value they are getting from it, particularly if they come back to the advice six to 12 months later.”

Automation: the answer to servicing smaller clients?

Improved use of automation may also provide a solution to the thorny problem facing many practices when it comes to servicing smaller – or single-issue – clients.

“It’s very frustrating as an adviser to know you can help someone, but you aren’t able to do so due to the costs involved,” Tenison says.

“For many practices, providing one-off advice pieces is too expensive at the moment and they are turning away people who need their help. In some cases, the cost of advice can outweigh the potential benefit to the client.”

All this could change with greater practice efficiencies flowing from the introduction of automation for routine, repeatable tasks.

Improved automation could alter the equation for both the client and the practice.

“The right technology and more streamlined processes could be a gamechanger for the advice industry. It will provide us with the capability to hit demographics that aren’t viable with the current high cost of delivering advice,” Tenison says.

Updated 6 months ago
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