Operations

Why Scaling Your Firm has More to do with Your Back Office Than You Think

There is a new focus in advisor technology to drive business process automation, digitally transform the client experience, and keep back office workers happy and productive.
Louis Retief
10 min to read
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Many financial advisory firms want to scale, but in order to do so financial advisors need to hand over some control within their firm to the back office professionals in order to increase efficiency and reduce bottlenecks. Hubly found that back office employees are integral to an advisory firm’s daily operations, overall business performance and scalability after analyzing over 600,000 workflows. 

Back office workers are not client-facing employees, but their job descriptions go a lot further beyond administrative tasks. Back office employers are integral to a firm’s overall business running smoothly because they are responsible for critical daily functions, including, but not limited to: 

  • Developing and improving workflows and processes
  • Delegating work within the firm to drive productivity
  • Adopting technology solutions to enable team members to do their jobs more efficiently
  • Ensure SOPs/regulations are met 
  • Maintaining important documents, preparing required paperwork, running reports, and data entry
  • Relaying key information to client-facing service team members
  • Leveraging technology to streamline and automate manual processes

Much of the work that back office professionals are responsible for is manual and highly repetitive with no room for error. 

Operational professional working at desk late
Back office work can be high stress without a proper workflow management tool.

By providing ownership and accountability for processes across the firm to back office employees, advisors are able to free up time to focus on serving their clients. The best way to understand the key inputs and outputs that drive your business and allow you to scale is to create a key process map for your firm.

A key process map serves as a management tool that visually depicts how work flows within your business, as well as the steps and people accountable for each process. Most financial advisory firms consist of the following key steps:  

Marketing

The goal of marketing is to bring highly qualified leads into your sales funnel. This can be done in a variety of different ways such as paid advertisements, email campaigns, landing pages, social media, and even referrals. However, it’s not enough to just attract prospects, you need to be able to nurture your leads by highlighting the services your firm can provide for them and your ability to help them make the right choices to suit their needs.

Sales

Sales’ function is to turn a qualified lead into a client. Most financial firms have robust sales processes that utilize a special framework which include multiple steps such as client prospecting, building rapport, discussing budgets, and finally, asking for the sale. This is where many promises tend to be made to new clients. It is important that client promises are documented and communicated with the rest of the team so that they can be delivered on.

Comprehensive Financial Planning Processes

The objective of comprehensive financial planning is to understand the goals of the client. Specifically, this centers around identifying opportunities to improve your client’s finances and implementing strategic planning over the course of several months to a year – depending on the complexity of your client’s needs. At this stage, recurring check-ins and fast turnaround is essential. Therefore, it is paramount for scaling firms to have a good financial planning software and practice management tool to stay on top of communications with your clients.

Back office employees are critical to keeping financial advisory firms on track

Back Office

As previously discussed, back office professionals are essential to keeping your business on track. running smoothly, and set up for scale. Back office employees do a majority of the work, and not investing in them can cost you the integrity of your business. These  are the three key functions that the back office performs most commonly which are key to helping your firm thrive:

1. Investment Management

Workflows: account openings and account transfer, fees, and Roth conversions. Investment Management includes a lot of paperwork, with often complex administrative processes, that need to be done to provide these services back to the client in an efficient and professional manner.

2. Case Management

Workflows: estate planning, tax preparation, securing and reviewing insurance policies, and the purchases and sales of houses.

Case management includes unique projects you are managing for specific clients. Firms that focus on a client niche will often see many of the same cases.  If you can standardize how you deliver on the many tasks these time sensitive cases entail for your clients, it will ultimately create efficiencies and consistency in your services.

3. Ongoing Service Requests

Workflows: beneficiary updates, and address changes.
Ongoing service requests  tend to be repetitive administrative tasks that need to be conducted at high volume and very accurately in order to continue providing quality services to your clients. Ongoing service requests continue growing as your client base grows and become very difficult to track without an adequate practice management tool.

The resulting success stories of your happy customers are then communicated back to marketing to generate more leads and referrals. The process map comes full circle.

How to Implement a Key Process Map in Your Firm

Download our free key process map below and sit down with your team to clearly define what processes each person is accountable for at your firm. If your firm structure is different from the below key process map, use it as a guide to create your own. 

As you go through the key process flow map with your firm, ask the following questions with your team for each process:

  1. Who is accountable and responsible for each function on your team? 
  2. What technology is currently supporting them with this process? 
  3. Is there a gap between the technology you have and the technology they need?
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