As the regulatory landscape evolves, more and more pressure is being put on advisors to meet higher compliance standards. But record retention and maintaining client files are not things most advisors relish spending time on.
The good news is there is a way to look at compliance that gives you greater piece of mind and reduces the effort involved. Here’s how advisors we work with create awesome client experiences while ensuring they are always compliant.
Define your compliance process
Creating a consistent and repeatable process for how you and your staff will handle all the required compliance activities is paramount. Many advisors who have admin staff or who work with junior advisors involve their staff heavily in creating their compliance process. This creates buy-in amongst staff and increases the odds that the process will be followed and steps are not missed.
To define the right process for you, take each of the big compliance areas (security, client files, record retention, etc.) and list out all the activities that need to be carried out for you to be fully compliant. For each step define how it will be accomplished.
In the old world, many of the steps in the process were carried out on an ad hoc basis. They were paper-based and labor intensive. Trying to file and sort paper and client files so that you remained compliant could be a real headache.
Luckily, there is now a better way. A way to turn the process you have defined into a largely automated, efficient and stress-free compliance machine.
Use the right technology
Turning your process from a paper-based, human-touch chain of steps to a streamlined, automated workflow means turning to technology. The right CRM and financial analysis software such as Equisoft/connect and Equisoft/plan will enable you to automate each step in your compliance process, removing the need for staff involvement and reducing the risk of human error. A good technology solution to your compliance challenge should include:
- A CRM specifically designed for financial services and insurance advisors
- An FNA tool that is fully compliant and demonstrates needs based selling
- Integration of the CRM and Financial Analysis tools
- Security features (bank level data security, secure communications)
- Voice recordings that can be attached to client records
- Filters to sort clients by service agreement so appropriate levels of service can be delivered
Putting process and technology together
Once you have your process and technology in place you’re ready to combine them to create your hands-off compliance solution. Here’s an example of how a good CRM software and process can be applied in a key area of your practice: client meetings.
Compliant and Efficient Prep
Consider an advisor who has an upcoming review meeting with a client. Prior to the meeting the advisor’s assistant is prompted by the CRM about the meeting date and time, and given any details that are relevant. The assistant can send the template agenda that had been created in the CRM’s template function to the client prior to the meeting using the secure email function. With a click the assistant can run a consolidated account statement showing investment and insurance information, and, if relevant, send the client the financial needs analysis tool so they can either fill it out ahead of the meeting or review and revise their existing data.
Once the client has completed or updated their information the needs analysis is returned to the advisor prior to the review meeting. The advisor can then run recommendation reports that suggest the right solutions for the client. A good analysis tool will also generate professional presentation materials for the advisor to use in the meeting. Because the FNA tool is integrated with the CRM all of the updated client data is automatically attached to the client file.
This means compliance is achieved—the advisor has a record of using a needs-based approach, security and privacy are preserved using the bank-level secure email function, and all relevant documentation is stored in the right spot. There’s no chance of data entry error or losing files.
The whole process took just a few minutes and required little effort from the advisor and the assistant. Even better, the advisor goes to the meeting prepared and the meeting itself goes smoothly because of the agenda and presentation. The client is likely to have a great experience because everything is targeted to their self-described needs.
Post meeting follow-up
After the meeting the first thing the advisor does is take our their phone and, using a feature in the CRM, records a voice memo that recaps what happened in the meeting and dictates follow-up activities that need to take place (like making a call or scheduling another meeting, or sending files, etc). In a second, the advisor can send the voice memo to their assistant who captures the actions to taken in the future and schedules them in CRM. The audio file is attached to the client contact so there is a record of the meeting and the actions to follow. Once again everything is fully compliant, easy on the advisor and assistant, and consistent with creating an awesome experience for the client.
To take the stress out of making sure your practice remains compliant, first create a process for ensuring everything is covered. Then automate it with the right software. The process makes sure you are doing the right things when it comes to compliance. The software makes sure you do them the right way. And, you’ll have more time to spend doing the things that matter.