Ask yourself a question. Is your back office system up to date? Then really question your answer! When was the last time you actually went through your data? Perhaps you’ve had it for years? At Adviser Outsourcing, we’ve seen financial advice firms with databases over 10 years old and while they hold a wealth of information, much of it is out of date, redundant and we’d best not mention the GDPR implications!
Your database is doing a highly important job for your firm. For many of you, it is the nuts and bolts of your business. If it’s incorrect then it’s inefficient. You know that your regulatory reporting is mandatory so it needs to be accurate. That’s not the only reason why your database must be correct.
Don’t Sell Your Business without an Up-to-Date Database
We’re not trying to sell to you – yes, our job is to make your life easier and data maintenance is part of our remit but we’re flagging certain scenarios. Here’s one. If your data isn’t regularly maintained, what happens when you receive a large project or FCA amend reporting requirements and you don’t know how to tackle it? Having your data up-to-date and properly maintained is essential and doing it regularly means you have a firm grasp on your data. Another good example where solid data management is essential is if you want to sell your company. A buyer wants to know that your database is meticulously looked after, that the records are 100% correct and that it is GDPR compliant. This information can even influence the price. We know of several finance advice business sales that could have achieved a better sale price if the data had been spot on. So don’t prepare to sell your business without an accurate database.
Do You Know Which Clients are Active?
Active and inactive client data (GDPR states to keep the data for as long as you need it yet for the shortest possible time, the FCA states keep for minimum 6 years) is vital for your financial advice business and here’s why. Have you spent time identifying which clients are actually still working with you? By keeping your records up-to-date, you instantly flag clients that are no longer active within your business and can take the action to restrict or ringfence them. Of course, you also need to monitor your active clients’ data. Is it correct? Do you have the right information for each one of them?
Obviously the type of information you keep for each client varies from business to business but that information could relate to email addresses, telephone numbers, residential addresses etc. The bottom line is you need to pinpoint who your active clients are and make sure you have key data on each. You should also check that you have the correct plans for each client,– how many are still actually in force?
Do You Know What’s Owed to Your Business?
Another hugely important area is Aged Debt Management. This is crucial when it comes to reporting and managing your business. It ensures you have a true reflection of what’s owed to your business and that your clients are paying the correct amounts. . If your client terminates their contract with you and you haven’t updated your data and data with providers, not only could you have a contractual issue but your aged debt will be over-inflated so there is more money expected than due.
How Well Does Your Database Work For You?
If all of your data is current and you feel confident, then question how well your database is running for you? It’s used for a variety of different things, income management, contact management, providing clients with valuation information. It’s also used for task management. It’s wise to review how each of these areas are used, updated and monitored. Making sure your database business processes are perfectly streamlined will improve your efficiency.
Have the Right People Got Database Permission?
Here’s another consideration – are you maintaining your database and provider access permissions? Often staff move on but their permissions haven’t been updated! Perhaps some staff have access to areas they don’t need and others don’t have access to information that they do need. It’s worth regularly updating your permissions, to maintain strong security if nothing else.
So – how do you implement a solid data management plan?
- An easy spreadsheet. You work out the checks you want to complete and how often you want them done, this could be monthly, quarterly or annually
- Brief notes on who did the checks, who is responsible for maintaining your database and dates on when it must be completed
- A log of the when checks were undertaken, who was responsible and action taken
The truth is, it sounds easy enough but databases are huge! Some firms have thousands of people on their database. It’s a task-driven, time-consuming job and for those that are not used to making the checks, it can take a while to complete. Many financial advice businesses don’t have the resource or the time. It’s expensive to employ a new member of staff just for those tasks, plus your current resource is likely already limited and doing the work they excel at, which is why we can help. We’re reliable and highly experienced in database management for the financial services industry. We understand how delicate the information is; we have specialist knowledge and are sticklers for the importance of security.
Perhaps we’ve piqued your interest? Most of our clients employ us on an ongoing contract basis which is a great way of managing costs. We dial in at agreed intervals; we suggest and agree key checks for your firm, implement these and advise changes where necessary. We provide a completed log of information on what we’ve done and where. So it’s worth having a no-obligation chat to see what we can do for you. There are multiple options worth exploring.
Finally, we invite you to ask yourself that question again – is your database up-to-date? If not, why don’t you try out our service? You’ll be impressed!