United Capital removing paper amidst rise of digital advisors

November 12th, 2014 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Business Process Automation | Document Management | Workflow

One investment advisor group announced that its offices will be paperless by the end of the year. 

The 50 offices of United Capital Financial Advisors will be free of paper by the start of 2015, according to WealthManagement.com. Joe Duran, the company's CEO, said that the entire process from client onboarding to full investment will be completed without the use of paper. Four offices have already made the transition. 

More paperwork means more hours spent on a single task. This makes the client onboarding process more difficult for advisors, and reduces how many people they can service. Prior to switching over to document management software the firm's onboarding process typically involved about three hours of paperwork, the financial resource company explained. With the switch, United Capital can have clients ready to go in as little as 12 minutes. Preparation for client meetings was also significantly sped up from several hours to about 25 minutes after offices transitioned to document management software. 

The rise of the robo advisor
Duran called his advisors "the real robo advisors" during Schwab's IMPACT conference in Denver, referencing their consistent use of technology in interactions with clients. The term robo advisor was a play on the rise of advisment platforms that engage clients with little actual human contact, instead providing assistance in a near completely digital manner. Robo advisement has become increasing popular in the industry for a number of reasons. 

First off, the clients want digital advisors, ThinkAdvisor explained. Frequent interaction fuels revenue, but recurrent contact in a digital manner has been shown to drive earnings more strongly. Social network interactions have the best results, followed by online chats, texting and email. People spend so much time online these days, it simply makes sense that they would do their financial planning online as well. 

In addition, regulators like the electronic trails that digital interactions with consumers leave, the news source noted. Also, the advice that comes via digital interactions is often more objective and dependable. Robo advisors lack a human element that Duran believe is essential though. He was able to bring these advantages to his own company using a combination of technology and flesh-and-blood humans.

How United Capital is taking advantage of technology
Duran explained that United Capital set up a client a portal, which will link together all of their brokerage accounts, according to WealthMangment.com. The portal will prevent redundant input of data because of the integrated nature of the firm's technology. 

So far the switch has made advisors' jobs easier by simplifying client relations, the financial advice website explained. Duran's employees are able to interact with individuals in a number of ways that speed up the onboarding and investment processes. One technology that advisors use allows them to hold live video conferences with their clients. United Capital is also investing in an investment selection process this February that utilizes gamification. The tool will allow clients to prioritize their investment focus based on a number of factors including price, performance, tax and protection. 

Duran prefers his employees using technology to interact with clients over robo advisors. He believes that a flesh-and-blood human can judge a situation better, taking into account the complexity of individuals' situations as well as the costs of potential mistakes. Machines can't help clients in these ways, they don't have the sense of judgment that humans do.

And though Duran chooses to focus on improvements in client relations, companies transition away from paper for a number of reasons. Document storage solutions can help businesses save money and speed up a number of processes hampered by the grind of paperwork. 

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