Many advisors are good asset gatherers, money managers or serve their clients well, but they often falter when trying to make the connection between their technology, their human capital, and efficiently growing their businesses. Following is a typical scenario for an advisory firm, and one way to help make that connection.
With the increased volume of client calls and concerns to address, an advisory firm’s staff is getting worn out trying to fit more hours into their days. The advisor appreciates the extra effort everyone is making, but forcing more hours than usual into the same clients isn’t going to be a viable long-term solution. They need to work smarter, not harder. The team knows the firm’s CRM system is capable of much more than they’re currently using it for, and that a few changes could simplify many tasks, but if they didn’t have the time before to sit down and figure it out, they sure don’t now.
Process Definition in Action
At ActiFi, we recently visited an advisory firm which wanted to gain efficiency and consistency in its client service by embedding its processes onto the firm’s CRM system. Since step one in achieving that goal is defining their client service processes, we decided to conduct a little exercise.
We gave everyone a sheet of paper and a pen, and asked them to write the words, “Defined Process,” along with their definitions of the words. Then we asked them to select a client-facing process that they all could agree was pretty well-defined. After some back-and-forth discussion, the group selected “client onboarding.”
We asked them to describe at a high level what that process would consist of, and then to draw a picture of the steps involved. When they looked at each other’s drawings and saw how many different perspectives there were, they realized that they really were working from different understandings of both their clients’ experience and each other’s roles in the process. Even their definitions of the words, “Defined” and “Process,” though similar, were different enough that the team realized they were approaching the concept from many different angles. At this point, it was clear to all that their next step was to agree on a shared mental model of the defined Client Onboarding process, and more important, to draw the picture that tied it all together.
In our interactive, hands-on Process Workshop exercise, we put different-colored paper shapes representing various tasks and activities up on the wall. People got up and moved them around, adding and renaming pieces as needed.
Then, with guidance from ActiFi consultants, the team organized their tasks and activities into various levels of detail, defining triggers, timeframes and dependencies. This is the part where it gets fun.
There was a lot of debate as to which steps in the process should actually be considered a task, as opposed to an explanation clarifying a task, or maybe even a whole new process of its own. How do you actually break down tasks to the appropriate level of granularity? How do you get visionaries and bean-counters to agree on what level of detail is really needed?
The debate continued until all were satisfied that we had a well-rounded and thorough