Advice360° is a series designed to help advisors increase their productivity using our digital wealth management software.
In this installment, Steven Niedzwiadek, Advisor360°’s Product Manager for Compliance, shows financial advisors how our gifts and entertainment disclosure tool can save them time and keep them in compliance.
Over the next few months, we'll delve into four pivotal topics that define the compliance and supervision landscapes: Gifts and Entertainment Disclosures, Personal Securities Disclosures, and Political Contribution Pre-Clearance. The goal is to improve efficiency, free up time, and make operations transparent for the advisor and back-office, all while meeting requirements. Today, the focus is on gifts and entertainment disclosures.
‘Tis the Season for Giving
We all look forward to this time of the year. The day-to-day hustle and bustle slows and the focus shifts to appreciating each other and what we’ve accomplished together over the past 12 months. Still, it’s not a time when advisors and broker-dealers can entirely kick up their feet. Year-end checklists can be long and many—among them is ensuring that all gifts and entertainment items are accounted for.
Proper gifts and entertainment disclosure is critical to complying with FINRA and SEC regulations. Let’s unwrap how Advisor360° can help with this.
Simplifying the process to disclose (is the greatest gift)
Advisor360°’s new and powerful tools reduce the time and effort required for advisors to disclose gifts, eliminating manual and repetitive tasks. A few clicks within a CRM system are all that users must do. Our team concluded that Advisor360°’s gifts and entertainment disclosure tool saved users more than 90% of their time in terms of total clicks and data entry compared to commonly used systems in the industry.
What’s more, users no longer need to copy, paste, create new fields, and shuffle multiple pages to report what amounts to a modest gift. Rather, the improved process requires just two fields to be completed, compared to more than 600 using the current (and outdated) industry method.
In our testing, disclosing 100 gifts took advisors about an hour, but we slimmed that down to only 12 clicks and five minutes, allowing advisors to focus on what matters most—their clients. And if new gift recipients need to be added, our new process is linked to existing CRM platforms—so it’s simple.
It’s not just about speed, either. Our team focused on a page redesign to minimize NIGOs (not in good order) and allow the home office to concentrate exclusively on items that exceed company policy.
Our upgrade also helps improve gifts and entertainment disclosure policies overall, due to the tool’s auto-aggregation feature, which sums all gifts to ensure important thresholds are monitored. The auto-aggregation feature gives the home office a comprehensive view of all gifts across the firm. This same auto-aggregation feature allows us to auto-close cases when the gift does not exceed threshold limits, allowing the home office to only focus on exceptions. Additionally, we built this new reporting system with the advisor in mind: The ability to export disclosures into tax preparation software is a quick and important win.
Unwrapping it all
In all, we estimate that the Advisor360° full self-service reporting tool for gifts and entertainment disclosures saves a medium-sized home office 675 hours annually. It’s all about collecting more data with less effort, and then being able to use and report that data with fewer hiccups and follow-ups. Over the long haul, after adopting our gifts and entertainment tools, it is our aim that broker-dealers and home offices will experience fewer conflicts of interest and taps on the shoulder from regulators.
Looking ahead, Advisor360° is excited about a new initiative to be launched early in 2024 which will help advisors untangle the web of DBA (doing business as) management, an often-overlooked aspect of compliance, and an area of confusion for some companies. In the meantime, happy holidays from everyone here at Advisor360°!
Steven Niedzwiadek is Product Manager for Compliance and defines and oversees product features that improve broker-dealer, advisor, and investor performance and efficiencies in the banking, investment, and insurance industries.
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