It's debatable if the fiduciary standard is 'higher' than suitability. But the better question might be, who's holding the bar?
By Cyril Tuohy
Advisors looking to spruce up their businesses with an eye toward selling the business in the next few years may want to examine their workflow procedures and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, according to a report.
Smoother workflows and efficient CRM processes enhance their firm’s value in the eyes of potential buyers. But many advisors still rely on paper-based manual systems – the trustworthy memo pad and Post-it note, according to a new paper published by SEI, a fund processing and investment management company.
“As client relationships become increasingly complex, the firms that embrace smarter ways to manage those relationships will be the first that succeed,” said Raef Lee, managing director for the SEI Advisor Network.
CRM systems extract data from computer storage vaults and turn that data into information that helps advisors prioritize their workday and manage customers and prospects.
In a white paper published this month, SEI suggests that even when advisors implement CRM systems to improve workflows, many still don’t use the technology as effectively as it should be used, or don’t use the technology effectively at all.
Survey results included in the white paper found that 58 percent of advisors who claim to have CRM and workflows in place at their practices still rely on memory, to-do lists and travel checklists to implement daily tasks, SEI said.
More than 500 advisors participated in the survey.
Many advisors also appear to “implement and forget” when it comes to measuring the impact of workflow changes, SEI added. The survey found that 53 percent of advisors polled said they never measure their workflow processes to find out if the changes have been effective.
Spenser Segal, chief executive officer of ActiFi, a coaching and consulting company, said workflow integration when properly implemented is a “key ingredient” to creating an effective advisory business. Advisors can use it to manage client and non-client-facing activities, he said in a statement.
CRM systems, properly implemented, can boost sales and profits by orders of magnitude. But often the systems aren’t designed with the end user – the agent or advisor – in mind. That’s one of the reasons pencil-and-paper pads and Post-it notes endure in physical form.
Computer software systems are also notorious for not communicating with other software systems in an industry that is heavily regulated and siloed across product categories and distribution channels. Users find it isn’t worth their time to learn the intricacies of software, even off-the-shelf systems.
More than half – 57 percent – of advisors surveyed said they don’t believe their technology or processes ensure a consistent client experience, and 52 percent said that the reason they don’t keep pace with the latest technology tools is that they are busy on daily operational tasks, SEI said.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at email@example.com.
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