Neil Martin talks to Damien Kelland, Director of View Consultancy, about iConnect, a new system, which could change the way advisers work with clients.
It’s only a matter of time before advisers need to start digitally recording their meetings with clients.
Regulators are well aware that with such important decisions being made, a fool-proof record needs to be made of what is being agreed.
Yet currently there are few options for an adviser if they wish to make a 100% accurate record of what was discussed. The piece of paper with tick boxes which is then buried in a file has obvious flaws, so is using a smartphone, or Dictaphone (imagine losing that and finding all your client files in someone else’s possession).
But one company thinks it has the answer, one that has been tried and tested within healthcare, corporate training and the education market for several years now.
iConnect, supplied exclusively to the financial services market by Bristol-based View Consultancy, is a system which provides the ideal solution. It’s an application which sits on an adviser’s iPhone, or iPad (the software is fully iOS compatible) and allows an audio, or video file to be made of a meeting. The file is not stored on the device itself, but uploaded immediately to the secure online platform. At this point if desired the file can be linked into a client record on a firm’s CRM system.
Once the meeting is complete, the file is in the cloud, safe and sound. It’s more secure than a client ringing a firm and the phone system recording the call.
Damien Kelland, Director of View Consultancy, explained: “Once uploaded, the file can also be immediately viewed by the compliance team. They can review the meeting and pre-empt any complaints.
“Think about the benefits for say a network. They have to send a compliance person out several times a year with each of their advisers; iConnect would negate the need to do that, and then they could pick and choose which of their network advisers they listen to at any point.”
Kelland believes that the requirement to record client interviews, especially those considered a high risk, is inevitable. He said: “There are changes coming in and we are in the process right now of recording phone calls. That is starting to happen, but actually the next step is to record as much client communication as possible, for both training development and compliance purposes.”
“What we are finding is that people are saying that’s a really good idea, but until the FCA tell us we have to do it, we’re not going to.
“I think that what they are missing here is the chance to innovate, to market themselves to prospective clients as fully confident in the advice they are giving, because ultimately what a client is worried about it is what they are being told in these meetings. So, if you’re saying I’m recording it, you would have added belief that everything you were being told in that meeting was correct.”
Another key perspective is that such a system, which is already being used by a number of firms, is ideal for training and development purposes. It’s a great way for new, or inexperienced staff, to see how meeting should, or should not be conducted, and would also allow them to develop their soft skills when it comes to talking to clients. Additional functionality within the system allows the ability to remotely give feedback via time stamped commentary, and the creation of groups to target share the files.
Kelland added: “We know that there is a dearth of candidates in the market. What is now prevalent is younger people entering the market, becoming fully qualified, but maybe lacking the life experience generally associated with an adviser. There is a lack of cost effective training procedures to bring these advisers up to speed and we believe that the iConnect system would be invaluable in this instance as you are utilising your existing resources.”
Long term benefit
There is another possible long term benefit, one which could really make an impact on the industry said Kelland. In conversations with a PI broker, they pointed out that premiums would likely fall if the industry recorded all their client meetings.
“It could reduce PI costs, because the risks are less. As long as you can prove you have a compliance manager reviewing those meetings, then you are showing best practice.”
Kelland said that using the system has to be a win-win situation for a firm: “In the immediate short term you are protecting yourself from a client point of view. Medium term you are building up a bank of content that will increase training and development within your business, and long term you have possible benefits from possible PI cost reductions.”
However, Kelland thinks that such a system should be rolled out over a period of time: “We’re not saying to a business, take this on tomorrow and record every single meeting. What we’re saying is that over the next decade this is going to become the norm. We can agree that high risk client conversations will need be recorded. So why not gain the benefits now? Get the system on board, start to use it day to day within your business, identify specific types of business, or specific types of advisers who want to use it, then roll it out throughout your business so it becomes standard practice. This adoption procedure helps with the change process within your business, and you have immediate gains from a training and development perspective.”
Unified communications package
Kelland has operated within the financial services sector for over ten years and View Consultancy not only offers iConnect, but also provides qualified change management consultants who can advise how such a system is used. They also partner with a number of suppliers that enables View Consultancy to provide a unified communications package. By using the iConnect system alongside a call recording tool advisers are able to securely store, retrieve and monitor all client communications – whether phone based or face to face.
Kelland finished by pointing out: “we haven’t come across anything that can achieve the same results within this sector, been in education sector for around eight years; the product has systematically evolved. It’s been scrupulously tested and effectively embedded during that time.”
That’s not to say that Kelland isn’t looking forward to working with advisers to ensure that any suggested enhancements, which are geared towards the complex financial services sector, are quickly taken on board to create a very viable and reliable product.
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