The Financial Planning industry has always had a strong commitment to providing outstanding service and optimal financial advice to its clients.  However, increasing pressures from government regulators are making the advice process increasingly difficult.  Compliance obligations more than ever are a key element of an advisor's practice.

For a compliance manager, it is the cause of a lot of sleepless nights. 

For financial planners and advisors, it means less time spent on providing the best possible service and advice to clients.

And ultimately for the AFSL and dealer groups, it compromises delivery capabilities, creates business risk, makes audit reporting difficult and can significantly reduce the value of your business. 

However, it doesn't need to be this way.  Here's a checklist that can help to overcome compliance challenges. 

What's needed is an efficient and rapid process that provides visibility and insights into how the business is performing  - across all of the business.  This is the objective of Compliance Management Software.

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  1.  Get your files in order - The average financial planner has between 70 to 130 clients, with around 7 documents created for each client each year.  This means that on average a financial planner is creating,  modifying, executing, and filing around 700 documents each year. For a compliance manager working with a team of 100 financial planners, this equates to 70,000 documents!   With files being the backbone of client engagement and fundamental to proving good compliance it is critical that you can quickly and easily find the documents you need when you need to.  But how do you logically manage and track so many files? A well-structured approach can provide a chronological map of the client engagement.  You can see when the first engagement occurred, the status of the implementation, and the level of the overall engagement. Getting orders to the files makes the compliance process much easier. 

2. Know what your documents contain - Each document has a certain purpose and in some instances, certain documents must contain certain topics as dictated by the authorities. When it comes to assessing the compliance of a specific client you want to have the ability to quickly understand the content and make sure that all the necessary and relevant information has been provided. Having the ability to quickly see a document outline,  what sections it includes and what topics or important areas where discussed is important. 

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Checklist

3. Ensure alignment to specific requirements -  It's the seemingly little things that deliver good compliance.  With a large volume of clients its critical to make sure that you can easily answer the following types of questions ;

 - Are all documents that require signatures fully and correctly executed? 

-  Have we provided the correct Financial Services Guides or PDS? 

-  Are the FDS statement and advice dates correct?

Quickly having answers to these types of questions can alleviate compliance pressures. 

4. Analysing Clients Specific Needs - Not all clients are the same and each client needs services tailored to meet their requirements. This adds further complexity when analysing documents for hundreds of clients. However, using advanced analytics you can focus on certain areas.   For example  - anyone over a certain age will require assessments around pensions. A strong process combined with an advanced business insights tool can help you ensure that the right services are being provided.

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5. Don't leave your compliance audits to chance -   A manual auditing process is time-consuming and laborious, and as a result, many compliance managers take a weekly random sample and assess only a small percentage of the overall client base. While this can help develop insights into some of the businesses currently challenges it may only be scraping the surface and there could be big compliance issues in the future. Having a robust, repeatable and effective process can help highlight whether you are headed for stormy seas, and give you time to prepare

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