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IFAs: The hidden processes that glue your business together

by | 16 Sep, 2020 | Process

You may not realise it, but right now there are activities happening in your business that aren’t being properly managed and you don’t have visibility of. Our recent shift to homeworking has exacerbated this, but didn’t cause it.

These activities aren’t the minor clutter of your day-to-day – quite the opposite. These are the processes that span departments, systems and time. They’re hidden because they can’t be neatly managed by any one piece of software, and so they fall through the cracks. 

Why does this matter? It matters because these processes are the standards by which your business operates. They are the things that define your service, the things that make you special. They are the most important things to your business success. 

Only you will know what these processes are for your business, but here are some examples to get you thinking:

PROD compliance

The PROD rules are intended to ensure that products you recommend to clients are distributed appropriately and deliver outcomes appropriate to their needs. While you know this, you may not realise that if the regulator asks to see the processes that determined your decisions, your company will need to provide satisfactory evidence to demonstrate your compliance.

The entire PROD process comprises multiple aspects. It requires having a thorough client segmentation process and linking the specific products you offer to these segments. You need to regularly review each product to ensure it is still suitable for the intended target market(s). You should also use your client review process to assess whether the product is still achieving its intended outcomes.

How easy would it be for your company to supply evidence of all of these aspects? Your back office system may be where you store forms completed by clients, but does it contain information about how you ascribed them to a particular target segment? Do you record when you last reviewed your product offerings and whether this resulted in any changes?

Employee onboarding

Getting employee onboarding right is fundamental to your success. Your company might use HR specific software to keep a record of employee details, finance software for the payroll and an intranet for policies but how do you manage the entire employee onboarding process?

This includes activities like signing the employment contract, security and reference checks and ordering equipment. Not having oversight of the whole activity is why all too often employees don’t have access to the right systems on their first day. No wonder 7% of employees have quit a job on their first day.

Onboarding is especially important for those who have yet to gain Competent Advisor Status. The better they are trained on how your business operates, the more effective they will be.

Posting on social media

As a company, or an individual working for that company, you may share content on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to create awareness of your services and to attract new clients. But how do you manage the whole end to end process?

Do you have a way of making sure that posts for each platform are appropriate and contain accurate information? That the posts are signed off by compliance? And that this happens the same way every time?

Posting content that is unclear or misleading, or without the necessary disclaimers, is an offence. It may seem like a small part of your business operations, but simply because of that it’s liable to be overlooked and to affect your financial standing and your reputation.

Consequences of ignoring these hidden processes

Things work well enough right now, I hear you say. Why should I do anything differently? Well, if mediocre is what you strive for then maybe you shouldn’t, but bear this in mind:

  • Relying on processes stored in memory creates inconsistency and risk. Consistency is key to ensure every client has a wonderful experience and becomes an evangelist for your offering
  • What if something major is forgotten or done incorrectly? Strict regulations mean that the consequences can be disastrous for your reputation
  • People doing things their way deteriorates standards, leads to poor service and clients not knowing what you stand for or what makes you special

Because you aren’t capturing everything happening in these hidden processes, all these issues are invisible. Besides, how can you improve something you don’t have visibility of?

How to uncover and manage these processes

The solution is to look at the bigger picture. Follow these three steps:

  1. Identify what the processes are that glue your business together. What are the important activities that span people and systems?
  2. Write down the steps in these processes at a high level. From this you can assess which parts are already managed by software and which rely on manual activities
  3. Ensure your business is the living embodiment of your processes. This can be done by effective training or simple, cost effective systems such as Process Bliss

It may seem like a lot of work, but what price would you pay to escape mediocrity and create excellence? Fantastic processes are why some financial services companies scale to great heights and others hit a glass ceiling and find themselves unable to grow. Are you ready to uncover the processes that are holding you back?

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