Monday, 30 July 2012

Selecting a cost effective, compliant Document & File management solution for financial advisors, agents and brokers ?

Selecting a cost effective, compliant Document & File management solution for financial advisors, agents and brokers ?

As I meet with financial specialist clients, whether a one person operation or a large professional practice, a common theme has emerged about the time wasted handling, processing & searching for documents. Both the professionals and the back office team lose productive time with these non-productive activities. We have quantified and costed these activities as an additional 15%-20% on  your operational costs.
Searching to find the correct documents one of the team needs, which may be related to a client query or a need to reference  during a client meeting out of the office, or perhaps to confirm compliance or provide a supplier with some important policy or client information, is a well understood example the industry can relate to.

Documentation is very important for your business, for your client and for 3rd parties such as regulators and therefore is central to your business success. So what is needed is a software solution that ensures for both professionals and back office staff that Information and documents are correctly available when required, and the time spent on the actual content of the document as it relates to the stakeholder is where your focus is, and that any handling or storage is automated in a secure manner.

The challenge is often the same in a practice which uses software as well as those who are still largely paper based. Analysis suggests the problems are fundamentally the same.

·         One back office person handles all processing and filing, and is the focal point for requests for information and documentation, that person can be a bottleneck in the process, always has to do the storage and retrieval and may have a system not understood by the rest of the professionals in the practice.

·         Two or more back office staff handle the processing and both though competent do things slightly differently.

·         It’s a “free for all” and everyone in the practice has access for storage and retrieval and things go missing, get misfiled and sometimes lost.
We all understand the challenge when a business is paper intensive and regulated. What is surprising for some is that having moved part or all of their process to the digital world that the expected benefits for doing this are not realised.

There are three digital scenarios that are most common within the financial specialist community, and only one of these scenarios can be considered effective in delivering real business benefits and bottom line results. Let us consider each scenario:-

1.       Electronic Filing on our Server/PC’s: This is probably the most common scenario where some or all of the team create, update, scan and store documents using the operating systems file management tools, such as Microsoft Windows or MAC OS. Though there can be some benefit in flexibility to change and update documents, all of the above issues that were experienced in the paper world, just transfer to the digital world. Even if we just focus on back office person managing the records, they have to create the files and folders, come up with naming conventions, take decisions daily what folder and file to store a document in and the Filing system may not be readily accessible to everyone, or worse still everyone does their own thing.

2.       Document & File/Record Management Systems: There are many systems available from the sophisticated, expensive enterprise systems to low cost or even free open source document management systems. These are not inherently bad systems and when set up and operated correctly they provide great quality and productivity gains. However because they are generic in that they have application in many types of businesses they have to be configured, have work flows set up, choices have to be made on types and handling of different document types. Search features will tend to be mainly key word so there is still a fair amount of wading through search results to find the right document.

3.       Document & File Management for Specialists:- We believe based on our experience that the best results and biggest payback, for financial specialists who want to move to, or derive the full benefits of the digital world and go totally paperless, is to use a system such as Brokerprove which is designed specifically for advisors, agents & brokers. It has a completely pre-configured file structure and document types that are unique to your business. It handles the structure and naming of files electronically and as a result, it’s harder to make mistakes, because the filing process and system is very well defined, there is only one process and one filing system that everyone uses. Searching for documents is more refined and faster and can be completed by any of the team once they have an internet connection. Nothing can get lost even if there is an unplanned system outage as a copy of every file and folder is securely stored in the cloud.

In conclusion:- If we had a totally paper based business with all the legacy issues and costs that exist and we were to fix this system, what would we have to do.

·         Define in great detail the process for receiving, handling and storing any type of document we need in the business.

·         Document the process and system and then train and retrain every staff member.

·         Have strict , enforced rules for checking in and out documents

·         Always anticipate the specific documents needed during the day so that you have them with you when you need them and have a process to let everyone know what documents you have.

·         Monitor and audit the process very regularly to ensure compliance, keep a record of non-compliances and corrective actions.

However what we are suggesting that when you move to the Digital world that all the above items are addressed automatically, pragmatically and in a way that is user friendly, this is why we recommend using a document and file management system that was designed specifically for your financial advisory business. The system provides the guides, standards, process and rules for how digital documents are managed, so it’s just becomes the way everyone does things giving more consistence, higher productivity, better stakeholder services and enhanced compliance.

Procurement check-list for a Document & Record Management System:

·         A file structure specific to a financial specialists business

·         An automatic file naming system that is easy to understand and manually or automatically search.

·         A utility to quickly determine your record compliance status

·         An un-disputable set of (e) evidence that can be independently verified by any stakeholder on or off line as to the provenance, security and integrity of any document.

·         A level of digital security that ensures only authorised personnel can access and review specific documents.

·         Simple secure access for any authorised individual via the internet anywhere, any time

·         Confidence that there is always a secure, up-to-date back up copy of all files available.

Only Brokerprove meets all these criteria by design.

For further information

1 comment:

  1. To top it all, maintaining consistency in your files will make it easier for you to locate any of these at a whim. However, doing this manually can be very daunting. That’s why it is advisable to make use of file management software. Making use of such software allows for a systematic and organized process of managing and tracking specific data.

    Ruby Badcoe