Looking for advice around a reliable back office system to install in your practice? Alan Moran shares his thoughts after installing his new system in April.My firm installed its new back office system a couple of months ago as the system we had been using, Iress’ Adviser Office, had started to creak at the seams and we had additional costs just to host the system. I had been a strong supporter of Iress for the past 12 years, even chairing the regional user group. We initially moved to Iress’s XPlan as an alternative because its technology was a bit more modern. However after struggling desperately with the system for five months, I looked for technology with the right functionality to fully meet our business’ needs. I chose Intelliflo’s Intelligent Office, which seemed to offer what I needed. I was cautious about making the right decision for our business and I spent many hours looking at alternatives, but I also needed to make a decision quickly because of the tight spot we were in. With some trepidation, I held my breath, took the plunge, and thankfully Intelliflo’s Intelligent Office was the right choice.
“I wouldn’t consider travelling to business meetings on an old pushbike and I think my clients are entitled to expect more.”
The difference with Intelliflo’s Intelligent Office (IO) is that it does what it says on the tin. I need a system to act as a hub for all client activity, including client valuations, and a system that demonstrates we are meeting our service standards where every client contact is recorded. A sound back office system for a successful adviser firm needs to analyse business data, track compliance and meet the FCA’s reporting needs. A good system also needs to provide client access so they can view their account 24/7 and exchange documents and messages as required. In the past, many practices considered the focus of a back office system as somewhere to identify marketing and sales opportunities. With today’s service-based practices where regular income accounts for 90 per cent of revenue, a good system must help you enhance your service to your existing clients and IO is set up to do just that. In my opinion, IO is a serious player in the back office systems market.
The more integration your back office system has, the more efficient and profitable your business will be with more time spent providing value to your clients. With our valuation integration, we can access the information we need quickly and efficiently and make sure clients are paying the agreed fees. IO is a pretty innovative back office system - access is via a web browser and data is backed up in the cloud. There is an IO iPad App coming soon but it is not yet on general release. Running a modern business without a reliable back office system is like trying to run a business without computers. I wouldn’t consider travelling to business meetings on an old pushbike and I think my clients are entitled to expect more.
I always aim to use all the functionality provided by a back office system because it adds to efficiency and service. IO’s functionality is great but there are gaps and I’d like the system to do a lot more. Because of those gaps, IO is not entirely at the centre of my business as I would like it to be and I have to go elsewhere for several functions, which is a shame. However Intelliflo are listening: they are both proactive in their development with exciting additions coming out with in the next few months and they are also reactive through their ‘community’ where they take feedback and suggestions from users. When you take on a back office system my advice is to make sure you spend time working out the functionality of your system to save yourself time over the longer term. Using the functionality correctly will take out some of the drudgery and put more fun back into the business and allow you to deliver an enhanced service to clients and put time where it matters - in front of clients and not in front of excel spreadsheets. Since we have moved to IO, our firm’s service has improved considerably and is getting better by the day.
While cost is a consideration, you cannot choose a back office system on its cost alone. There are several factors to consider:
- the company you choose needs to be a market leader with a proactive development programme and a budget to match
- the system needs to add value to your business by enabling you to increase client service and business profitability
- the system should be widely used so that advisers and administrators joining your practice are familiar with it without the need for additional training. IO has about 12,000 users
- If your back office system is a recognised industry standard, it will add value to your business as it will be easier to integrate your practice with another if you merge, are taken over, or if your business is bought out at retirement, etc. You have to think of your future.