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Future Fit Advice

Efficiency and compliance: striking a balance

Tangelo's avatar
Icon for Advisely Partner rankAdvisely Partner
2 months ago

Running a successful financial planning business while ensuring efficient and effective client service/engagement is paramount. But how do we balance this with compliance, which is often seen as stifling innovation and efficiency?

Here are three aspects of advice efficiency and how can they seamlessly intersect with compliance requirements:

1. Compliance as a foundation

Compliance shouldn’t be an afterthought; it must be integrated into your advice delivery and client engagement at every step. Consider these compliance-focused strategies:

Client-centric approach

Don’t develop your client engagement processes in isolation to your compliance obligations. Remember: your compliance obligations are designed to put your clients' interests first, as well as placing them in a better position. 

Part of your process, for example, could include peer reviews of advice strategies or collaboration with paraplanners to ensure the proposed advice is in fact the best option for the client. This not only helps demonstrate best interests duty (and even consideration of alternative strategies) but also provides an extra layer of due diligence.

Record keeping 

Maintaining contemporaneous and consistent records of client interactions, decisions and agreements has been and will always be critical. This has been proven throughout numerous remediation and AFCA cases where “the file” (consisting of the fact find, SOA, file notes, working papers) has been the determining factor of a successful/unsuccessful complaint. 

As such, your file must explain the “why” of the advice. You should ensure that you are confident in your process to maintain a single source of truth for your client interactions. This will be even more prevalent in a post-QAR world if the advice document is refined and streamlined further.

2. Process optimisation

It is important to have the right processes in place. If you aren’t doing it already, streamline your processes using technology. Leverage digital tools for compliance checks (such as alerts for when critical tasks are not completed), document generation, and communication with clients. Using such tools will not only streamline processes but also reduce manual effort, thereby minimising inefficiencies.

Take the time to map your workflows for the entire client journey. This will allow you to analyse every step of your advice process to identify bottlenecks as well as opportunities for improvement, including touchpoints where you can enhance the client experience.

When doing this, get all your team involved – particularly those who are responsible for the “doing”. They will often have great ideas about how to improve processes (not only for the business but also for the client) as well as identify areas that are particular pain points.

When it comes to process optimisation:

  • Focus on moments of truth (e.g. obtaining all product provider/fund details upfront to speed up the Authority to Proceed steps)

  • Only process-map critical functions; if a process rarely happens or is the exception, don’t get caught in micro-managing every facet

  • Look at the roles and responsibilities of team members to maximise efficiency. For example, having a 45-minute meeting with a client followed by a 15-minute debrief with an associate adviser/paraplanner might avoid confusion and ensure everyone is on the same page

  • Reduce data entry inefficiencies by minimising duplication across multiple systems. Use of client portals or reverse fact-finds could lead to quick wins in efficiency (while reducing errors at the same time)

Efficient processes and workflows don't just enhance compliance; they reduce business risks and lead to better and more consistent client engagement.

3. Balancing efficiency and exceptional client experiences

While efficiency is crucial, some of the best client experiences go beyond this. Efficiency, in terms of client engagement, means achieving service goals with the minimum effort required from both sides (businesses and clients) – but doing it effectively.

In considering efficient and exceptional client experiences, consider whether your client value proposition (CVP) actually aligns to the lived experience.  For example, if your CVP centres around providing expert guidance to medical professionals, how does the actual advice experience you provide reflect that?

If you haven’t done so in a while, you might want to consider "co-creating" the advice experience with your clients. Understand what is actually important to them, as opposed to what you think may be important. 

We often discuss the idea of back-office efficiency and front-office effectiveness: by automating and standardising as many admin functions as possible, you can spend meaningful time in front of clients, having the conversations that actually matter.

Advice efficiency in client engagement isn’t just about speed; it’s about delivering quality advice while meeting compliance obligations. Striking a balance between the two doesn't just protect your business; it safeguards the clients' interests, too. 

Updated 2 months ago
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