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Going Paperless Reaps Bountiful Harvest For Small Advisory Firm

Ted Knutson

Chal Daniels, owner of a small advisory firm in California’s Napa Valley wine country, said he is reaping a bountiful harvest of savings and enhanced customer service by going paperless.

In six years of drastically reducing his firm’s reliance on paper forms and correspondence, Daniel’s Harvest Financial has been able to save on rent by turning a former 10-foot by 10-foot file cabinet room into space for an additional employee.

Savings have also come from reduced insurance costs and time spent on retrieving documents, working with the company’s broker-dealer and dealing with its chief regulator, the California Department of Corporations.

Bottom line?

“By going paperless, I can spend more time with clients listening and finding their solutions. That is what any office system is all about,” Daniels said.

The entrepreneur explained it took his business, with two advisors, 2.5 staffers and $25 million in assets under management, about a year and a half to move to a primarily paperless office with the aid of eFileCabinet, a software and cloud services business.

Part of that time was devoted to coordinating with the broker-dealer, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Finra and the California Department of Corporations to make sure all necessary client data was being collected and kept secure.

The process also involved extending the day of a part-time worker from three hours to five hours so the staffer could scan the tens of thousands of paper documents accumulated in Harvest Financial’s 19 years of business.

Daniels estimates that 25 percent of Harvest clients are choosing to get their statements electronically while the rest are opting for paper. He notes more clients under 40 -- 60 percent -- choose getting their records via e-mail compared with older clients.

“Some people think it is more secure to get paper; that is not logical in my mind,” Daniels said.

While a firm believer in the virtues of electronic, the advisory firm owner admits he prefers to get his news on Saturday from a crinkly paper so he can sit down and relax.

He cautioned that going paperless requires brain power as well as computer power.

“It’s not plug-and-play software.You have to think about setting up a filing system that mirrors how you organized the drawers of your file cabinets,” he said.

One of the big continuing barriers for his office to going completely paperless is that mutual fund company communications are still largely paper.

Another is that most agreements have to be signed, but next year, Harvest will be moving to electronic signatures. The vendor cost is not a one-time charge, he noted. Maintenance fees and charges for storing documents in the cloud make this part of going paperless a continuing expense.

This article was sourced from www.fa-mag.com at the following URL:



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