After the initial impact of the Covid-19 and the widespread shutdown of businesses, there was a huge question regarding how business owners needed to make adjustments to the way they conduct their business in order to stay open. With social distancing mandated everywhere and the public advised to remain inside their homes, many businesses had to face major layoffs, temporary closures, and severe financial strain.
With the global situation bringing drastic changes around the world, businesses are now being forced to reanalyze the structure of their processes. This means finding more efficient ways to conduct core operations. Independent financial advisors are no exception to that.
A research was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences which was published on July 28, 2020. They took a survey of more than 5800 small businesses and gathered information on the economic impact of Covid-19 on small businesses.
According to the survey, industries that were related to retail, arts, entertainment, personal services, food services, and hospitality business were hit the hardest with unemployment almost hitting past the 50% mark.
However, finance, professional services, and real estate-related businesses were impacted a lot less. Why? Because in these industries, advisors, and clients, both were able to weather the disruptions much better by continuing their operations remotely and through digital processes.
With the Covid-19 crisis still ongoing, it has become evident that businesses shifting towards automation is more of a necessity now and not just an option anymore. Those that have already shifted, need to expand their automation that is already in place.
Specifically, independent financial advisors have a lot to gain by accelerating their automation process. Through a digital solution, independent advisors could gain a competitive edge in the market.
Independent financial advisory comes with many responsibilities. According to Dawn Rosenberg McKay, the duties of a financial advisor include:
Although working independently comes with many benefits for financial advisors, these tasks can become quite daunting and toiling. With no one else to rely on but yourself (maybe just one other staff member,) your time management strategy must be impeccable to keep up with the work pressure.
Integrating digitization into these processes would allow advisors to improve their performance in numerous ways. Let’s find out how independent advisors can benefit from this.
The new generation is all about convenience. This means doing things faster and easier. Aside from the fact that it is the ideal manner and convenient during a pandemic, conducting day-to-day official tasks from the comfort of their home has become the new norm for clients currently.
Those who have still not chosen to implement digitization into their work routine will find clients no longer want to have to come to meetings physically in order to share hard copies of required documentation or to make those repeated signatures using ink and paper. Financial advisors who choose to facilitate their clients through e-documentation and e-signatures are the ones who will maintain a competitive edge in the market.
Unlike advisors with large firms backing them, who offer them support where and when required, being an independent advisor often comes with budget or financial restraints. Independent financial advisors now require methods that increase productivity without requiring deep pockets.
Nowadays, manual processes are no longer the preferred method in any form of business operation. According to EY, finance automation can cut data entry costs by up to 70%. That is a significant number considering financial advisors spend more than 50% of their time conducting administrative tasks.
RPA (robotic process automation) technology can allow independent financial advisors to save up a lot of their costs that would otherwise be spent on manual labor for physical handling of files and documents, paper and ink costs, and shipping delivery costs which are required during frequent information exchange between various agencies.
In addition, incorporating RPA to digitize your processes allows advisors to handle a lot more tasks in the same amount of time. With RPA, a business can easily turn over their repetitive, mundane, and time-consuming tasks to automation technology where software robots can make things like clients onboarding, maintain client records, validate account and card info, and other rote tasks an almost human-touch free operation.
Fixing error-prone document handling and Not In Good Order documents is a time-consuming, expensive, and nightmare-like scenario for all financial advisors. The cost of fixing NIGO documents can be 3 to 4 times more than error-free digital processes. With financial automation software in place to digitize most of your processes, financial advisors would be spending less time fixing errors and those dreaded NIGO documents than you would during the traditional methods.
Why bother doing tasks by hand when a computer can do for you better in a few seconds? With CRM software or RPA technology handling a lot of your digital processes with little or almost no human interaction, the chances for error would automatically fall low. All this would result in less time and eventually less money spent fixing human errors and increased efficiency.
Incorporating digitized processes would allow advisors to free up several hours in a day that now can solely be focused on conducting high-value tasks. This gives independent financial advisors an opportunity to implement the client-first principle while providing their professional services.
Although the digitization ball had already been rolling for financial advisory firms for some time, the pandemic only helped it gain momentum. Those that have accepted that digital transformation is essential, will have a standing chance to compete in the already saturated finance market whereas those who are slow to grasp the necessity of harnessing digital technology into their daily processes will be left behind.