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Enhance Service and Profits With Workflows

Creating workflows for your firm's internal processes can boost efficiency and profits, all while keeping clients satisfied.

Bill Winterberg, 01/10/2013

Delivering investment and financial advisory services to clients continues to become more complex year after year. Advisors must constantly revise their internal processes to adapt to changes in the investment landscape, tax and regulatory law, and client expectations.

Following such processes is essential in the delivery of consistent and efficient service, but few advisors have formal workflow procedures of any kind established within their firms. Systematized workflow assures that the same steps are followed for routine activities, no matter who is responsible for completing the work.

Creating an entire workflow system from scratch is a daunting proposition, so one company is helping advisors accelerate their use of workflow to meet the demands of the ever-changing financial services industry.

From Personal to Network
Founded in September 2009 by financial planner Deborah Fox, the Fox Financial Planning Network™ (FFPN) is a workflow system coupled with a robust information resource center. Fox is well known in the financial services industry, recognized in particular for her extensive knowledge of college funding strategies developed for a separate business she founded 15 years ago, Fox College Funding®, LLC.

Throughout her nearly 30 years of experience as an advisor, Fox developed internal workflow procedures and resources used in her firm for everyday activities, from the straightforward to the complex. When the Great Recession and credit crisis of 2007-2008 reversed the growth trend of many advisory firms, Fox recognized that her workflow system could be used by others to help them recover and boost their bottom line, while at the same time improve the consistency and quality of advice delivered. Thus, the Fox Financial Planning Network was born.

Network Materials
FFPN is a combination of a product, service, and a community. FFPN's primary product is the documented Workflow System and associated training modules, including over 100 individual processes used for client meetings and back-office activities. FFPN delivers workflow documentation using a PDF Portfolio, which contains a collection of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files related to 11 main meeting types:

--Prospective Client Meeting (both in person and over the phone)
--Initial Planning Meeting
--Investment Planning Meeting
--Insurance and Spending Meeting
--Estate Planning and Charitable Giving Meeting
--Financial Independence (Retirement) Plan Meeting
--Readiness to Retire Meeting
--Financial Plan Delivery Meeting
--Social Security and Medicare Planning
--Small Business Retirement Planning
--Client Progress (Annual Review) Meeting

An overview of each meeting type is provided in a single-page document, identifying the four meeting components: the purpose, agenda, resources, and general workflow. Resources for the meeting types include both internal documents used by the firm as well as documents to be shared with clients. These documents are packaged together in the FFPN PDF Portfolio, providing quick reference to all supporting materials, such as flowchart diagrams, detailed written procedures, and spreadsheet templates.

Bill Winterberg, CFP, is a technology and operations consultant to independent financial advisors. His comments on technology have been featured in a variety of financial industry publications. You can view more information about Bill and see his schedule of upcoming speaking engagements at his Web site, FPPad.com. The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.

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