There are a few pieces of technology I just can’t live without when conducting business – and surprisingly a Blackberry doesn’t make the list. These seven pieces of technology have changed how we do business so significantly that we can’t live without them. Each bit of technology has already paid for itself many times over.
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 ($500-$600)
Experts have been making claims for years that the end of paper was near. Not quite the case, but more and more advisors are focusing on going electronic to reduce the amount of paper in their practice. Over the past 12 months our office has reduced our paper usage and storage by over 90% and we couldn’t have done it without the ScanSnap S1500.
This little scanner barely takes any room on your desk and will scan both sides of a colour document with lightning speed. It’s so smart that it even removes blank pages, detects and flips right-side up upside down images, and automatically detects the size and colour of the page.
You simply drop a stack of papers into the feeder, push a button (the unit only has one button), and then a menu pops up on your screen to ask what you’d like to do. From here you can choose to email the document with a password or save the PDF to your client’s electronic file.
Now we scan and email documents to clients instead of using the mail which speeds up the process and saves on postage. When clients drop off their notices of assessment, instead of making a copy, we simply take a scan. Instead of keeping copies of everything before mailing forms to head office, we keep an electronic copy. This reduces our copying costs and now all my client paper files fit into one drawer.
Benefits: Reduces printing and copying costs; increases efficiency; frees up significant storage space.
ACT! (Starting at $200 + installation/customization)
A good CRM lets you manage your existing clients, grow your book and stay compliant. We use ACT! because it can be customized to meet our needs. A company called CRM4advisors customized our version so that we can input dates for specific client goals, dates when insurance policies will renew, 90 day calls, six month reviews etc.
We can also easily print personalized form letters or emails to all clients or to select groups. When a client calls, we quickly pull up their name and start making notes about our conversation. ACT! puts a date and time stamp on the note and stores it with the client. When we email a client, the email attaches automatically to the client. Before a review meeting we print a summary of all the history associated with the client since their last review meeting as well as upcoming ToDos.
Benefits: Stay organized; stay compliant.
GoToWebinar (from $948 USD/year)
Getting prospective clients out to seminars and events is becoming more difficult so we decided to make some of our events more convenient. GoToWebinar allows us to hold the same presentations we hold in our boardroom, over the web. Attendees sign in, see what is on our computer screen (such as a PowerPoint presentation), hear what we’re saying over their computer speakers, and can ask us questions via their computer’s microphone, via chat, or via a traditional phone line. As the presenter, we see who is online and whether anyone has raised their hand to ask a question. This is very similar to the programs used by fundco’s, but designed and priced for smaller shops like us.
The best part about this software is that everything is automated:
- A sign-up web link is created and we email that to our clients/prospective clients and also post it on our website. During the sign-up process we ask specific questions to qualify attendees: “How did you hear about our workshop?” or “Do you have over $200,000 of investible assets?”
- Attendees receive a confirmation email for their registration as well as instructions on how to attend.
- Attendees also receive reminder emails one week, one day, and one hour before the webinar.
- When attendees leave the webinar, they are directed to a feedback survey.
- After the webinar two follow up emails are sent out; one to attendees and one to non-attendees.
Everything you would do for an in-person workshop is done for the webinar, except that with the webinar everything is automated and you can set everything up months in advance. All the registration, reminders and follow up for all our webinars for the next 12 months are already programmed so now we can focus on getting people to attend.
The final benefit is that you can record your webinars and post them online for everyone to view at their convenience.
The webinars you may have attended for AdvisorPractice.com are held with GoToWebinar and you can view our most recent playback to see what it looks like.
Benefits: Hold workshops online; appeal to tech savvy clients; automate the reminder and follow up process; record your workshops for playback.
In Part 2 we’ll look at four more pieces of technology.