In this modern age of digital communication, VOIP, texting, smart phones and Skype, most of us in the financial industrial still have one big foot still planted blatantly in the 1960s. And no, it is not the shiny suits still worn by some insurance agents. It is the fax, first known as the facsimile transmission system (1900), telephotography (1907), the Belinograph (1925) and eventually the Magnafax Telecopier (1966).

Of course, these days the ‘modern’ fax doesn’t look 110-years-old. It is all camouflaged as a multi-function printer and can scan, send in color and delay faxes until after six. It can also broadcast a fax with a touch of a button, but the core technology is unchanged.

And the core costs and many hassles remain. Aren’t you tired of paying $40 a month for a dedicated fax line to then spend another $40 a month in paper costs, receiving and then copying reams and reams of faxes from the investment and insurance companies?

Aren’t your staff sick of pawing through the stacks of files trying to find that one single faxed page that contains the vital tidbit of client tax or medical info? Are they stressed by having to hover over the fax machine so that the client’s private info is not displayed openly for the receptionist to giggle over?

The solution is easy and has been around since the turn of (THIS) century. Tweet your assistant to go online and set up an account at one of the many fax server websites. These services allow you to set up a local or 1-800 number so that all faxes come to your email (or your administrator’s email, or both) in the form of a PDF.

Think about that.

How much easier a PDF is to sort, store, copy, save, delete and send along. Instead of being forced to print off 12 copies of the new 44 page UL policy guidelines from an insurance company to deliver to each broker, set up Outlook to AUTOMATICALLY forward those faxes to each broker’s Inbox. Then, she can also more easily ignore the needed information instead of having to manually toss the hardcopy your receptionist spent an hour photocopying.

Moreover, the faxed PDFs can be saved and easily searched using the Windows7 search feature to scan the text INSIDE each PDF as well as the file names. If you don’t yet use Win7 then download ‘Google Desktop’ to your Vista, XP or even Mac machine to do the same thing. Mac users can also use ‘Finder’ of course.

The cost of setting up a fax number can be as little as $8.50 a month. At that price, each broker or rep in your office could get their own private fax line. Myfax.com, a great Canadian firm, is a perfect starting point to getting rid of that clunky and awkward fax machine, for good. It is easy. Set up a trial fax number and have all your wholesalers route all their faxes to that address so you can see how it works and determine if the ease of handling PDFs works for you. If that works then slowly start to migrate clients over to this number and possibly, eventually, cancel your old fax line when you get cards reprinted.

Hello, 2011. Goodbye, 1966.

Kevin Cork, CFP, is President of TheAbsoluteGroup.com and a best-selling author.
Originally published on Advisor.ca
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