Paperwork is finally completely removed from the process
Technology often has been a way for broker-dealers to differentiate themselves from the competition. As technology becomes increasingly vital to the efficiency and success of a representative’s business, financial advisors actively are seeking out the firms that can offer tools that will make a real impact on their day-to-day operations.
For the past several years, many broker-dealers have trumpeted their technology solutions to advisors. Ten years ago, these so-called solutions were more flash than substance but were still successful recruiting tools. Today, however, substance rules.
The problem with technology solutions in the past is that they were not seamlessly tied to any of the other mission-critical systems and therefore did not directly communicate with compliance and operations functions in the back office. It was a classic case of misrepresentation–broker-dealers promised representatives that technology solutions would make their lives easier. In reality, they made the firms’ back offices more efficient, but the advisor was still stuck with piles of paperwork and endless data entry. Because their solutions didn’t deliver on functionality, the firms couldn’t deliver on their promises of efficiency and streamlined processes to financial professionals.
The advent of a new technology, electronic signature (or e-signature), finally has made it possible for broker-dealers to make good on their promise to advisors. By delivering back-end efficiency for the firm and an integrated, paperless operating environment for the rep, the industry’s latest technology solution is the equivalent of the Holy Grail for advisors.
In the past, representatives had no other option but to print hard copies of all documents and physically deliver them to their OSJ (Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction Managers) and the broker-dealer home office. Reps also were required to keep hard copies on file in their offices to comply with SEC books and records requirements. All of these hard copies quickly added up to a veritable mountain of paperwork.
In addition to the storage capacity problems caused by the sheer volume of paper documents, keeping track of all these hard copies as they continually changed hands inevitably resulted in an endless game of phone tag between OSJ and back-office staff. As compliance inquiries and questions about incomplete documents arose, the process became slow and muddled, resulting in wasted time and frustration for advisors and their clients alike.
With e-signature technology, paperwork–the bane of advisors’ existence and the barrier that keeps them from spending valuable time with their clients–is finally completely removed from the process. E-signature condenses the entire process for account openings, account updates or order placements down to one easy step. The seemingly insurmountable mountain of paperwork that stood between advisors and their clients in the past can be reduced to a tiny electronic signature pad that allows clients to “e-sign” all required forms instead of navigating through pages and pages of paper documentation.
The best systems also provide “e-file cabinets” that eliminate the need to store hard copy files in-house or offsite, and also integrate with an automated workflow component that compliance personnel can utilize to retrieve these online original documents.