It's all joined-up
At ValidPath, it seems that for many years now, we have had in place an ongoing review process, looking at our models for delivering advice and the best possible financial outcomes for clients. Inevitably, this involves a focus on systems and processes, in order to understand clearly those steps which are of greater significance, or those which may give rise to disproportionate levels of risk. Understanding how everything joins up is not a kind of optional extra in the professional adviser's toolkit.
Now, some readers might think that this workflow chart is a little on the simplistic side. In that respect, they'd be right: it is intended to represent the main conceptual stages in the advice process, based upon the essential technological tools that most or all of us would use. For the purpose of simplicity, I have excluded from this visual the various other technologies that we might use in order to refine our offering, or deliver client outcomes.
As we have kept this whole area under review, we have developed our Network proposition accordingly. As a result our core offering for IFAs is based upon three discrete, yet inter-dependent technologies: one manages the whole advice infrastructure and compliance, one handles the detailed research, and the third documents everything reliably and compliantly.
As far as possible, we want these technologies to join up, and to a large extent they do. Entering client data and completing the FactFind on Clarity (our back-office/practice-management system) allows that data to be re-used for the purposes of risk-profiling and then arriving at a suitably researched recommendation. From the research stage, the same data is then re-used again in order to complete the documentation of the suitability of the advice. Every stage leaves its own permanent imprint on the audit-trail supporting the advice that is given.
In an ideal world, there are more joiny-uppy bits that we'd like to see in place. We have them on our wishlist, and we are proactive with software providers, most of whom appear to understand the importance of connected technology. But there is a point here which needs emphasising: the effectiveness and reliability of each subsequent stage in the process, is entirely dependent upon the accuracy of the data entered, and re-used, in the earlier stages. If what we enter at the FactFind stage is inaccurate, or simply not specific enough, then either the conclusions or results later are skewed - or, it is simply impossible to draw any objective conclusions at all. And, clearly, if there are cumulative overlays of inaccuracy, as one proceeds through the advice process, then there are significant implications when it comes to important compliance functions such as regulatory reporting.
So, Daniel Barenboim was right, then...
Updated guidance for ValidPathers...
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