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How To Automate Your Client Journey

As an adviser and a business owner, automation is one of the best ways for you to streamline your work and create a scalable practice. Automation can take a significant weight off your shoulders by:

  • Saving time
  • Helping with quality control
  • Reducing the stress that comes with figuring out what’s next
  • Setting expectations for your client services
  • Providing clarity to you and your team
  • Increasing productivity

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for advisers to start automating their businesses—there are so many automation options out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed or not follow through. That’s why I’ve put together this guide that outlines how to get started and find automation success.

What Should You Automate in Your Business?

Are you wondering what to automate in your business? You can comfortably automate many different elements of your business, and it can be tough to decide where to start. I recommend that you kick off your automation journey in two key categories of your work:

  1. Technology
  2. Processes

It’s easiest to start your automation process here, then expand later on to automating specific elements of your business—like marketing, admin and more.

Leverage Your CRM

When you’re building out your workflows in your CRM, there are a few questions to think about:

  1. What is the goal of each workflow? For example, a prospect’s workflow goal is to walk them through the sales process and ultimately convert them to a new client.
  2. What are the steps you take in each workflow from start to finish?
  3. How can you identify the additional resources needed to complete each step? (Think: email templates, meeting agendas, financial plan templates, data gathering resources)
  4. Which team member will take ownership of each step in a workflow?
  5. What is your timeline for each workflow?
  6. Remember, every time you launch a workflow, you aren’t only getting a repeatable checklist, but a timeline on when to complete each step.

Integrate Your Tech Stack

Your next step is to analyze integrations that are available to your firm from each tech vendor on your list. When you integrate your tech, you’re finding ways for different systems to “talk” to each other and streamline your processes. One of your biggest tech integration tools is going to be Zapier. Zapier is an integration device that helps different systems “talk” to each other, when they otherwise wouldn’t.

Most common zaps to set up in Zapier are:

  1. Calendly (Meeting Scheduled) -> Wealthbox (Find or Create Contact) / (New Event)
  2. Precise FP (New Client/Prospect) -> Redtail (Create New Opportunity)
  3. Precise FP (New Engagement Complete -> Wealthbox (Start Workflow)

Look for overlap in features for each tech vendor. When you start to see different systems that overlap or consistently perform the same roles in your workflows, you can start to cut costs.

Your next step is to find the gaps in your current tech stack. Are there activities being done manually by your team that a tech solution could automate?

Remember, before you start looking for new tech to meet an integration gap, be sure to think about the impact it makes on your client experience and what makes sense for your team.

Monitor and Adjust

After you complete the steps above, it’s time to walk through your new automated processes! I typically recommend either walking through your processes as you onboard new clients, or taking the time to walk through them without a client with your whole team to make sure everyone is up to speed.

Once you’ve walked through your processes, you’re ready to start implementing in your day-to-day. However, no process is ever truly “complete.” Make sure to set up a time to do regular process audits—either annually or semiannually. During these audits, you can determine what’s working, what’s not, and how you can continue to elevate your client experience.

Charesse Hagan

Charesse Hagan helps financial planners work smarter, grow their firms and offer exceptional services to their clients. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is an operations consultant at Charesse J. Hagan, LLC, and an FPA Coaches Corner coach for technology and operations. Find more resources from Hagan here.


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5 Tips to Prepare for Cyber Threats in the New Year

Today’s cyber environment has cultivated a perfect storm for financial planners. The timing and velocity of cyberattacks combined with an increase in regulation requires more than just a defensive posture. To be successful in 2019, financial planners need to be proactive, not reactive by default. It all starts by implementing basic cybersecurity tools and protocol, then architecting a modern cybersecurity framework around it—one that satisfies current laws and provides clear, documented evidence of enforcement.

At the time we began managing cybersecurity in 1995, cyber incidents looked a lot different. Today cyber threats come from all areas of the globe and a host of bad actors. One cyber incident can bring down an enterprise. The reputational risk alone creates a negative multiplier effect of losing clients, licenses and the cooperation from regulators when a firm is ill-prepared.

The good news is playing the cyber offensive is relatively easy with these five tips for success:

1.) Use multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Financial services firms that adopt MFA require a user to provide more than just a password to access a network. An example of MFA is logging into a website that sends a numeric code to your phone, which then grants access to your account. The technology is simple and does not require one to be a computer genius to use.

2.) Employ data loss prevention tools and settings

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools and settings are critical for regulatory compliance and safeguarding your client’s data. Firms should already be using antivirus protection, encryption and screen locks. Antivirus subscriptions protect multiple devices.

Furthermore, encryption and lock screens on a cell phone are simple to use, inexpensive and easy to enforce.

3.) Printed cybersecurity policy and practice drills.

Most firms have a cybersecurity policy, but only a small percentage print them and run cyber practice drills. A hard copy of the cybersecurity policy enables immediate access should a firm’s network become compromised or inaccessible. Running practice drills ensures everyone understands their role and responsibility for the firm’s cybersecurity policy.

4.) Build a cyber dream team.

On a previous FPA Coaches Corner webcast, we explained how to build a cyber dream team, roles and responsibilities. An ideal team, for example, is comprised of your firm’s chief information security officer (CISO) and a cyber expert. A cyber expert is formally trained in cybersecurity and incidence response planning and should have a deep understanding of the regulations.

5.) Documented cybersecurity evidence.

One of the most important functions is generating proof and evidence for the regulators, without it, no one (including the cyber insurance company) will believe a firm is in good order. Various cyber documents, such as a Written Information Security Policy (WISP) and Cyber Asset Audit Report, create the body of proof. These documents should also be printed in case the system is compromised.

Playing the cyber offensive will position advisers operating under a fiduciary standard for success, whereby acting in a client’s best interest forms the basis of the client relationship.

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the FPA Coaches Corner whitepaper titled “Make 2019 Your Year: Business and Career Tips to Get the Most Out of 2019.” Read the full whitepaper here.

Brian_Edelman-headshot

Brian Edelman, CEO of FCI, is a nationally recognized cybersecurity expert specialized in the financial services industry. He is the FPA Coaches Corner coach for cybersecurity.


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What Good Planners Need to Do in the Digital Age

The future of finance is a mixture of robo advice and human advice, according to Charles Schwab’s 2018 Consumer Digital Demands survey.

Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they believe robo-advisers will have the biggest impact on the future of finance. The survey also found that Americans say financial planning is as hard as training for a marathon.

Clients will use technology, but they still need you to help them “train” in this digital age.

The Forbes article, “What You Should Expect from Your Financial Advisor in The Digital Age,” gave consumers tips on what their advisers should do for them when it comes to technology. It boils down to this: simplify their understanding of money by using and better explaining tech tools. If your clients are reading articles like the one in Forbes, they may expect you to provide the following:

Tech tools that easily do it all and have fewer steps. The Forbes article noted that advisers should offer technology that allows clients to check portfolios and their savings and checking accounts all in one spot.

Customizable technology. The Forbes article noted that clients should be able to customize their experience. “Don’t merely expect the proper customization—demand it,” wrote Forbes author Alex Chalekian, founder and CEO of Lake Avenue Financial.

A view of the big picture. Clients in the digital age will expect a picture of their total net worth and their progress toward retirement. This ties into having all their information, including all retirement, savings and checking information, easily accessible on a one-stop piece of technology.

Education on how to use the technology. Clients will expect you to show them how to use the software you provide. Take the time to ensure they understand how to use it and all the ins and outs and extra features.

“What a great adviser will do is use technology to be more connected to your life, to be able to comprehensively simplify your financial life and then interact at your convenience when you’re ready,” Joe Duran, founder and CEO of United Capital said in the CNBC article, “Here’s Why Robo-Advisors Won’t Replace Human Financial Advisors.”

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.