Self-checkouts for financial advice? Why not!

Man with trolley

We’ve all seen expansion of self-checkouts in supermarkets in recent times. Some love them, some hate them (unauthorised item in the bagging area!), but they’re here to stay. Let me tell you why…..

When first introduced they caused quite a stir. Whilst the idea of checking your own items was fun for some a lot of people found it preposterous and cried out for that personal cashier service. Some people were furious as they had to call over a member of staff to find the right item on screen or clean an error as the tills “just didn’t work”.

With all the uproar, why did supermarkets persist?

It’s simple. On a traditional till, one operator can deal with one customer at a time. Whilst the self-checkouts kept kicking up errors which needed to be resolved, one operator could run 15 self-checkout machines. That’s a saving of 14 staff members!

Fast forward a few years and pretty much everyone has now got used to self-checkouts. Has the introduction of the self-checkout stopped you shopping at your supermarket of choice? Chances are it probably hasn’t because you still want the produce from the store.

“What has any of this got to do with running a financial advice practice” I hear you say?

How many of advisers still sit with clients to complete a fact find? Way too many in my opinion! The adviser’s time is much better spent focussing on the clients’ goals, establishing their preferences and ensuring they really understand things like risk v’s reward.

I’ve heard advisers say that they get clients to complete some information before they arrive. Most of the time, this is an income/expenditure breakdown and sometimes this is a scanned page of a fact find for the client to print off, fill in and bring with them – which then needs to be rekeyed onto the back-office system!

Some have got the idea of the using the cheapest resource for the job and get an administrator to fill in the fact find with the client, so it’s complete by the time the adviser sees them. This reminds me of a Henry Ford quote – “if I’d have asked people what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”. It’s more efficient than adviser doing the fact find, however it would be much more efficient to use the self-checkout principle.

Most back-office systems now have a “client portal” where the client can log in and complete their own fact find. This is the self-checkout in financial advice!

Will the information be perfect? Possibly not. Will there be system errors? Maybe. But think about the self-checkout in a supermarket. How many clients using the client portal could your administrator help in the time they’d spend with one client completing the fact find?

What’s more, information keyed into a client portal is normally much more accurate than that provided by a client in an adviser meeting. Intelliflo say that on average clients complete their fact find over 3 nights between 7 and 9pm, giving themselves more time to get the right information in there. What’s more, there’s a greater propensity to use the correct figures rather than guessing – “it’s about £200” turns into “£195.56”, giving you more accurate data. AND that data goes straight into your back-office system – no re-keying!

You can also ask clients to upload any statements or signed letters of authority so the whole process can get underway before the adviser has any work to do.

By asking clients to complete their own fact find using a client portal:

1.    You get more accurate data

2.    You have near zero cost for completing the fact find

So, what are you waiting for? Get your client portal up and running, sit back and think what you’re going to do with your extra profit!

Not sure where to start? At Change Squared, we help advisers make their businesses more efficient – it’s what we do day in day out. Get in touch for a free conversation today.


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