With the beginning of a new year, my thoughts (like so many other people in business) always turn to “How I can do better?” As a starting point, I decided once again, to evaluate Interface’s business processes so I can start the year as efficiently as possible. You may think that sounds like a big project and yes, while it was quite big it was extremely worthwhile because in evaluating the business’ processes, I’ve found that we are indeed operating extremely efficiently. It makes me smile! While I obviously have my team to thank – I also have the wonders of technology and if anything positive has come out of a 2-year long pandemic, remote working is most definitely one that has made an enormous difference.
Yes, of course there are some areas of the business where we could improve – and I’m all for making things better for my clients. Thankfully, client feedback is excellent so the service we offer is ticking all our clients’ boxes (and more) but one of the areas where I feel we could do better is having more time to take on new clients.
I Want to Help More People
At this point, I have to emphasise that my business is all about helping people. It is not about making money, although I’d be lying if I said we didn’t, we do. However, if you know me personally, you’ll also know that I will do everything I can to go out of my way and help those who don’t have much money but need help, including only charging nominal fees to cover admin and time. Put simply, I hate turning new clients away. I especially have a conscience if someone has come to me after being turned away from other Financial Advisors, because those IFAs feel there’s no money to be made. It’s those clients that really need help after all.
With all the free information that I’ve put out into the public domain, through the extensive website (with its numerous guides on everything to do with finance), via this blog, the podcast and my YouTube channel (which now has 1,300 subscribers – without much publicising!), I do get plenty of enquiries, every day. So, for 2022, I am determined that following streamlining Interface’s business processes (and striving to do more), we will be able to take on more work.
So how have we streamlined Interface?
Well, being paperless has a positive environmental impact but it’s another process that’s helping me to free up my time, and that of my team’s. It means that everything is logged and stored securely in the Cloud. All meeting transcriptions, client information, financial investments and paperwork no longer live in a vast filing cabinet. It’s easier to access and with automated computer systems, there’s hardly any need to manually input data. That’s one area where we’ve saved time.
We also save time with email, although this is nothing new, but we hardly ever send anything out by post because it takes too long. Gone are the days when a letter went out on Monday, arrived on Wednesday, was replied to on Thursday – missed the post on Friday so an answer wasn’t received until the following week. We cut out all those wasted days with email. I had a client only this morning who sent me a secure message at 8.45am, by 10.00 a.m. I’d sent him the response he needed – job done! It’s quicker and easier (and doesn’t get lost in the post).
We Have a Super-Efficient Online System
As well as being paperless, 100% of our clients use our online system. Each client has their own online account (and I insist on this when I take on new clients). It means that individual clients’ can access their financial information and investments in a couple of clicks, using a secure portal and what I call 2FA (two-factor authentication). It is so secure, it’s like Fort Knox online, no one can access client data or their financial information without 2FA or express permission! Again, no more hefty filing cabinets and no need for team members to visit the office to trawl through paperwork to access files. It’s all there, accessible, and easier to manage.
Alongside our “remote” filing system, we conduct all our meetings via Zoom or the telephone. There’s just no need for face-to-face anymore and it means I can pack in more meetings every day than I used to in the past. Gone are the days when I’d drive for miles from one meeting to the next, lucky if I could see two clients in a day. Today, I can hold multiple meetings from the comfort of my home office and get more work done in a week than I used to in a month. Plus, I can see clients more frequently. Rather than having one, two hour meeting every six months (with an hour’s drive either side), I prefer to hold 30 minutes to an hour on Zoom (or the phone) and book another meeting in a few weeks later. It’s better for continuity, it’s more productive and it’s far less tiring than being on the road. Clients love it too!
Online Booking System
I have to mention how easy it is to book as well. No more diary-flicking or telephone calls back and forwards to find a mutually convenient slot. Instead, my free time is visible over an online calendar that my clients can access, and they simply choose their preferred slot and book in. What’s more, we have a brilliant system, that automatically transcribes every meeting and stores the file, so when my team need to follow-up, everything’s there waiting. I love it, tech is just so exciting – can you hear my enthusiasm? Even my older clients are now completely adept with the wonders of modern technology. If anyone finds it difficult to grasp, the team is always there to help.
Today, everything is “instant”, people have such high expectations too. So to succeed in a modern world, businesses must respond to this and thankfully, following my January processing investigation, Interface goes over and above. It does make me chuckle when I come across younger IFAs who say to me they can’t wait to get back in the office and conduct their face-to-face meetings – to me, they’re wasting precious time because it’s just not efficient enough to do that anymore. With our methods at Interface, it’s easier to build in more meetings, keep in touch with clients and most importantly help people make the most of their lives.
I’m happy that our business processes are state-of-the-art. With all of that in place, my next strategy is to use the extra time to take on new clients who need our help. I wonder how many of you have revisited your business processes. It’s a good housekeeping exercise to conduct, especially at the start of a new year.