This article is part of our special focus on the use of technology in financial planning
In this article, Michelle (pictured above) looks at the bigger picture and suggests some practical ways you can review how you use technology in your financial planning business in order to boost your overall efficiency and effectiveness
I think it is safe to say that, at times, technology can be your best friend – while at other times you are about ready to push it off the edge of a cliff!
Now, back in the day, like many of you, I started off my journey in this magical sector as a trusted administrator: working my way up and through the career ranks. That was before finally pushing myself off my own cliff with the brave – and somewhat naïve – decision to leave the comfort of the 9–5 (like it was ever a 9–5 job!) to not just help one financial planning practice but rather to hopefully help thousands of them.
It is this journey which gave me the gift of seeing things from both sides of the table. Although it doesn’t really stop there. As the designer of British, international and sector-specific standards, I believe I have a unique view of the technological space … a view held by no one else.
Let me share. Without stating the bloomin’ obvious, technology – in my opinion – does one of three things. If we are one of the lucky few, it will do all three at the same time:
- It permits – to make possible.*
- It protects – to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage or destruction.*
- It propels – to drive forward or onward by or as if by means of a force that imparts motion.*
*Source of definitions: https://www.merriam-webster.com.
So, before you start effing and blinding at the computer screen the next time the internet goes down, just take a moment and think about what I am about to say.
Let’s break this down and look at each of the three areas individually:
- It permits – to make possible. Yes, we all know how amazing you are at your jobs but honestly how much of that is us and how much of it is the technology that we are using to play the ace card? When we turn on our computers in the morning, do we even think about how much we appreciate and love the tools and technology that sit in front of us? Probably not – but I think we should. However, if you genuinely can’t quite swing your arms around your computer screen first thing in the morning like it is your long lost friend, then I’d ask you: are the tools and technology you have fit for the job in the first place? Who chose them and why? Do you actually know how to use the tools that were ‘gifted’ to you? Is your knowledge and understanding of the system so out of date that you thought the term ‘super user’ is the name of the next Marvel movie? Choose wisely: every day you only get a micro few hours (in the whole grand scheme of things) to perform your miraculous duties, so efficiency and effectiveness make the difference between thriving or just surviving.
- It protects – to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage or destruction. Yes, we’ve all heard it. The right infrastructure will prevent us from doing anything silly – although in the wrong hands, anything is possible. The right systems and tools keep you on track, stop you doing anything stupid and flag up the stuff that doesn’t quite look right. They are intelligent, intuitive and keep us out of trouble. We are surrounded by an abundance of systems and solutions designed by professionals in our sector, for professionals in our sector; however, the next time you get the chance, it may be time to turn the heat up on them!
According to Tony Richardson (Founder and MD of Octree Limited, https://www.octree.co.uk), there are 10 questions you must ask your back office and IT providers. These questions are as follows:
- Am I secure? (The answer is ‘there is no silver bullet’; however, Tony is always fascinated by the response to this question.)
- How do you keep me secure? (Cyber security is a process, not a target – it needs managing, not to be ‘set and forget’. The devil is in the detail.)
- What current and future threats do I face? (If you don’t know, how can you protect me?)
- What devices are on my network and what do they all do? (Shadow IT is a major problem and a serious cause of data theft/loss. This means things like unauthorised cloud apps, personal storage devices etc.)
- Am I getting the most from my staff? (A leading question to see if they really know what’s going on around the network, e.g. browsing habits, and whether you can trust them.)
- What is our business continuity and disaster recovery plan? How long before I’m operational again? Can you guarantee I will recover?
- How do we train our staff to be more cyber aware? (Technological controls are not enough – your staff could unwittingly be your biggest threat.)
- Do you really understand my business needs, as well as my legal and regulatory compliance mandates, or are you giving me what you think I want (or what’s best for you)?
- Are my systems current and the most effective they can be?
- Do you keep me regularly informed of technological advances and how improvements can be made?
… and that’s not all. If you are not happy with the answers … it may be time to push them off the cliff!
3. It propels – to drive forward or onward by or as if by means of a force that imparts motion. This is my favourite. Oh, my goodness! With the right tools in your hand … how far could you really go? How much could you really achieve? It’s kind of scary to think about it, but super exciting at the same time. I think we can all be honest here (me included!) and confess that we actually have no idea how to use many of the tools that we have available to us. I know for a fact that my MacBook Pro has way more functionality, gizmos and gadgets than I dare to imagine what to do with … BUT I can tell you that I work faster, smarter, more flexibly, more streamlined and I am way more organised with the tools than without them. Voice notes, videos and Zoom calling help me to stay in touch with my clients and my team all the time and in real time. Technology is the single biggest and most important tool that will support our business to deliver global services without limitation and without restriction. So, why on earth would we not want to leverage and squeeze every last drop of functionality out of every tool and platform we can get our hands on? Regardless of whether you are creating a global movement of change or not – you are still changing lives somewhere and I know for a fact you could do it way better if you tooled up to truly unleash your potential.
About Michelle Hoskin
Michelle Hoskin (aka Little Miss WOWW!ä) is well known for her endless enthusiasm and energy, infectious personality and unique outlook on what she describes as a “magical profession”.
With over 20 years’ experience working alongside some of the world’s most successful financial services organisations, Michelle is an internationally recognised author, speaker, coach and leading expert in the design and implementation of international framework-based best practice standards.
Michelle is pioneering a drive towards increased professionalism and operational excellence through her continued work at Standards International – the UK’s premier certification body for British and international financial services standards – of which she is the founder. She also most recently led a sector committee whose objective was to develop and launch an exciting new international standard for professional paraplanners.
Relentless in her pursuit of a global movement of change within financial services, Michelle is fully committed to supporting financial professionals worldwide to achieve things they only dreamed were possible, and to working with them so that they become the best possible version of themselves.