Creating a Paperless Advisory Practice

Originally published on GuideVine.com.

Every business, including financial planning, is becoming more and more digital. Digitizing your documents saves time, storage, and creates backup copies of important files. As an advisor, you likely use at least one software program to help you build a financial plan, gauge a client’s risk tolerance, or allocate a portfolio. But are you using software to organize and store your documents? Here’s how to create a paperless financial advisory practice.

Beyond using technology with your clients, integrating software and digital opportunities within your practice can help you streamline daily business and operations tasks and make life a little easier.

Why Digitize?

There are a number of benefits to digitizing your client documents like saving on postage, printing, and storage. Beyond that, using an online portal or software program provides a secure place to store information and electronic copies of documents in case anything happens to the original copies.

Second, you can access the documents from any location. So if you’re ever traveling for business or working from home for a day, you can still easily look up a client’s information without heading into the office. You can also search your documents by keyword, so it’s easier to find the documents you’re looking for quickly.

And third, digitizing your documents makes it possible for you to provide your clients access to their documents as well, whether it’s through a client portal or a digital safe.

Finally, having digital documents and secure storage can help organize your practice to make it more profitable for an acquisition and more prepared for a succession plan.

Remember to consult your broker-dealer regarding which documents should solely be kept in their original format and which you can maintain entirely in a digital capacity.

Digitizing Your Existing Paperwork

Going paperless for future clients is much less overwhelming than digitizing all of your past documents. For advisors who have been business for decades, this may even seem like too much trouble. Many advisors avoid embracing digital documentation because they don’t know what to do with their old and existing paper documents.

The first step to digitizing your existing paperwork is to scan it onto your computer. While this process can be time consuming, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Enlisting the help of an assistant or an intern can also expedite the process.

Using a traditional scanner, plan to scan a set number of client files per day and save them as a PDF. Make sure you scan each document at 100% of its size and at 300 DPI to ensure a high resolution. And if a document has color, scan in color. Otherwise, you can scan black-and-white documents in grayscale. After scanning each document, double check that the text is legible and nothing is cut off or unreadable.

If you don’t want to tackle this process yourself, you can use a scanning service. A professional service will scan all of your documents and give you the digital files that you can then upload to your computer, a cloud service, or a document vault.

Once you have digital copies of your documents, take advantage of software. A storage vault can provide you greater peace of mind knowing your documents are secure. DocuSign is one of the more popular options among advisors, but some alternatives include Laser App, Laserfiche, Worldox, and NetDocuments.

Embracing Technology

Whether or not you love technology, it’s essential to embrace it if you want to maximize efficiency. As more online portfolio programs and financial planning software advance on the market, and as more Millennials start financial planning, advisors must adjust to the growing digital expectations.

Not only will digitizing your documents make your business more efficient, but you’ll also be able to spend less time on paperwork and more time with your clients.

Claire AkinComment