Case Study: Berkshire-Based IFA
Since 2015, PowerPlanner have been actively working with advisers and financial planning firms to provide cost-effective, efficient and reliable paraplanning services.
Here's an example of what we did for one IFA headquartered in Berkshire and the results it brought.
The firm in question had 5 advisers and access to a paraplanning department that they used for research, quotes and report writing. However, the paraplanners were serving many other IFAs as well, and capacity was limited.
At busy periods, the suitability report backlog was so long that turnaround times were several weeks and trying to determine how long a report would take was practically impossible; all advisers could be told was their position in the queue. This became so frustrating that advisers often ended up writing their own reports.
Moreover, the paraplanning service worked on the basis that advisers could pay a fixed monthly fee which would cover all their reports regardless of how many were submitted. This, in combination with the above capacity issues, actually meant that the paraplanning department was loss-making, as advisers were ceasing to pay for the service because of its unreliability.
The firm was trying to adopt a streamlined, process-driven approach to financial planning, and saw a dedicated paraplanning department as an integral part of achieving that. With compliance checking in force for every case, the firm needed to have control over the outputs at each stage of the process.
How PowerPlanner Got Involved
The firm agreed to outsource their plan analysis work and report writing to PowerPlanner in order to increase capacity and help deal with the backlog of cases.
A key part of making this work was to agree a standard suitability report structure with the firm to ensure consistency of content, style and branding. We were able to give assurances that, because we have full control over our in-house, bespoke technology, we could make the necessary adjustments to customise the software to meet their needs.
The firm's Head of Partner Services was also pleased to learn that, as PowerPlanner's specialist software generates the suitability reports based on the specific content of each case, the appropriate risk-related elements are guaranteed to be included every time.
The firm also had their own set of risk-rated model portfolios, which they offered to clients who were looking for an active portfolio management approach. To save time and ensure accuracy of data, their model portfolios were loaded into PowerPlanner's software along with their associated asset allocation, performance and volatility data. This ensured the right portfolios with the correct corresponding charts and information were guaranteed to be written into each report.
PowerPlanner also agreed to produce illustrations for new business, which further eased the burden on the firm's staff.
Furthermore, the firm could utilise PowerPlanner's analytics software to create management information reports for all the cases we'd put through the system.
The most notable "quick win" was the increase in capacity and subsequent decrease in the size of the paraplanning backlog. PowerPlanner's staff were consistently producing reports within 5 working days, which meant the advisers finally had a service they could rely upon to deliver in a timely manner.
The effect of this was that advisers no longer had to write their own suitability reports and thus became free to spend their time giving advice again. This alleviated the time pressure and meant it was possible to visit more clients and provide a more personal service to them.
PowerPlanner's involvement also had the unexpected benefit of aiding compliance checks, in that the introduction of a standard template made it easier to check the reports, as critical sections were found in the same part of the document for each case. This made it much quicker to verify whether a crucial paragraph was there each time, and as familiarity and confidence in PowerPlanner's output grew within the report checking team the ease and speed of the checking process increased further.
There was also an improvement in the general quality of the suitability reports. A few weeks into working with this firm, we received the following from one of their advisers:
"The reports are so much better – I like how much shorter they are. I had a client who received a 50 or 60 page report from us last year about transferring a £4k pension into his GPP. He said it was so complex he didn’t bother reading it. Last week he got one of the new outsourced reports and said he read it completely and understood it perfectly. I’m so pleased clients can now engage with the complexities of financial planning so much better and if I’m getting that feedback, I’m sure other people are too.
"Regarding the [Mr S.] case (sent to him today) I also know that I was really pushing the boundaries in getting the case turned around quickly and I knew it wouldn’t necessarily be possible but it’s saved me going to Essex for two separate trips as I was going there anyway for another case. Thanks so much to the team for getting it done.”
Furthermore, the firm's paraplanning service went from loss-making to turning a profit as the partnership with PowerPlanner Solutions brought the efficiency and scale benefits that the firm needed with no loss of control over the advice process or deliverables for their clients.
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