In order to be a truly sustainable firm, paperless reporting is a must. The triple bottom line is not just a fancy bold word out of a college textbook â€“ it is what many firms live by. The triple bottom line is a saying that plays off of the double line that people give to profit. The triple bottom line specifically is people, planet, and profit and occurs in that order. Today, we are going to add the planet into our discussion about profit and cost savings and what your firm can do to benefit it by going paperless with reports.
All Advisors provide their clientsâ€™ reports, whether it be yearly, quarterly, monthly, or as requested. Reports are essential to the client/advisor relationship.Â Reports donâ€™t have to be printed and mailed anymore. With todayâ€™s technology, there are simple ways to go paperless by sending reports securely to the client that satisfy both the planet as well as the needs of the client.
- Operational Efficiency
Efficiency is important in all industries, but it is critical when operating an wealth management practice. Trying to organize what went out the door and sent via snail mail is disastrous. You have to confirm that all mailing addresses are up-to-date, worry about when and sometimes even if the report was delivered, among other issues. Operations are cleaner with paperless reporting. A firmâ€™s back office runs smoother, timing is improved, stress is reduced, and the team can move on to the next task at hand.
Paperless reporting is beneficial to the environment as well. There is often a chain effect that people do not truly understand or realize when printing a report and mailing it to the client. First, a tree must be cut down and made into paper. Then paper is shipped to the store. When shipping paper to a store, oil and gas are used. Someone from your firm either goes to a store to pick up the paper or that company ships the paper directly to your office, again using gas. You have to purchase ink, which can be made of linseed oil, soybean oil, or a petroleum distillate as the solvent that dissolves suspends the pigment. Again, there is the potential of using oils. There is also the plastic cartridge that houses the ink, also petroleum-based. Then there is shipping from distributor to store and store to your firm. Same goes with the postage stamps and your envelopes that you put the reports in. From there you have to ship via snail mail the reports using gas and oil as well. The graph below shows where everything comes from at a very high level. The packing of each product comes from multiple vendors as well. Each report that is used can single-handedly have a deep impact on the environment.
- Cost Effective
Paperless reporting is not only beneficial to the environment, but it is also beneficial to your bottom line. Not having to use paper or ink, purchase stock envelopes with company logos on them or having an employee or intern stuff the envelope can save you money. Then there is the postage to send the reports. The ink, paper, and envelopes cost might be minimal in the short term or something your firm doesnâ€™t even notice, however postage and labor could save a lot of money. If you look at the environmental impact in the graphic above, youâ€™ll see how much labor and cost there is in the each productâ€™s life cycle. That cost is passed on to the consumer, which in this example would be your firm. Paperless reporting cuts out almost all of these costs except the labor of the one person that uploads the reports in an email or on a clientâ€™s web-based portal.
- Portable and Accessible
In 2015, everyone wants everything at the palm of their hands. That isnâ€™t just saying. Clients literally want everything on their phones or tablets. They want to be able to log in to their email or portal and see what their advisor has sent them. There may not be too many people who carry around a treasure trove of historical reports from their advisor in their briefcase, but there are definitely a lot of clients who would love to have historical reports available on-the-go. Paperless reporting allows for that. Everything is accessible online and a client can pull up the current or any past reports on their phone or tablet.
- Improved Client Experience
When it comes to customer service, clients have a certain level of expectation. After all, you are taking care of their hard-earned money. Paperless reporting will improve the experience for the client. They can have a report immediately ready and make key decisions about their money by the end of the day instead of waiting 5-7 business days to receive it via snail mail. Â A document vault where an advisor can immediately upload a report to the client and the client can log into the Client Portal and view that report immediately is a necessary tool for advisors today.
- Ease of Collaboration
There is a relationship between the advisor and the client to reach optimal results. The client has wants and needs that must be fulfilled and it is the advisorâ€™s job to understand and help plan how to achieve those wants and needs. The collaboration between the advisor and client can take a lot longer with paper reports. Imagine this scenario: an advisor sends the report through the mail. The advisor notifies the client it was sent and states that if the client has any questions to call the advisor. A week goes by and the client finally gets the report. Then the client would have to review it, call the advisor, set up a meeting and figure it out. With paperless reporting, the client can log into their client portal, access the report, review it instantly and call the advisor to set up a meeting. If the advisor is busy with a meeting, they can exchange emails or comments with ease so that no oneâ€™s time is spent waiting for phone calls and appointments back and forth.
When converting to paperless documents, security online is always a major factor. Paperless reporting is more secure. The document will go from you, the advisor, directly to the client without any other people touching it. Think about how many people touch the envelope in transit to the client. There is client information in that report that people are handling. With paperless, no one is directly handling it. Going through a secure portal directly to the client is safe and secure.