Daily huddle: A 10-minute management power tool

Daily huddle: A 10-minute management power tool

A daily huddle is one of the simplest yet most effective practices you can carry out with your team.

Ideally, a huddle is a stand up meeting where the team gathers up and talk about their agenda. In our case, since our clients are offshore, daily huddles are done online either through Skype or  Zoom.

This quarter, we have a theme in our office to increase the number of clients who are doing a daily huddle with their team.

Why? We know that those who do get much better results from the team members , have less dramas and build better relationships.

What are the advantages of daily huddles?

Using this 10-minute management tool does not only benefit us but also our clients. We always value the importance of building relationships with our clients and so we believe this is a quick step to achieving that.

Not only does it improve communication, (1) it also saves you time from a long thread of e-mails explaining how to do a single task; (2) it keeps everyone in sync and organised as to what is done and what needs to be done; (3) it allows you to align your goals and set expectations (4) gives a forum for FPA’s to ask a quick question or clarify a task.

Important Tip – If you need to go in to depth on an issue, don’t do it in this session. Schedule a specific time to cover this later in the day or at a time that suits you.

Why daily and not weekly?

A week is simple too long between interactions. You need to know what the challenges your team members have each day (most are related to waiting on information or clarification from advisers) and what they are prioritising. Doing the huddle daily allows you to reprioritise urgent tasks when they come up and keep the team on track.

Invest Blue is one of our clients that do daily huddles.

“The daily huddle brings cohesion in the team. It is a chance to updated everyone on what your day will look like and what priorities you will be addressing.  It allows you to address any issues/questions that may have been raised the previous day or coming day in one conversation” said Nicole Taylor, Invest Blue Project Manager.

One of our financial planning assistants, Dray, also pointed out how a daily huddle helps her work.

“Daily huddles help me a lot. I can do follow-ups and get answers real-time. I get the chance to explain why I’m stuck at a certain task which they generously help me with. More importantly, I am able to build a better connection with my client. Nothing beats a friendly conversation with someone that you work with. It makes me feel more comfortable and less intimidated by them” Dray said.

We have observed that for those clients who communicate with their team members more frequently, feedback scores are much higher. Apart from the FPAs feeling more engaged and connected, efficiency and accuracy rate is also higher when doing tasks.

Quick tips on doing a daily huddle

We call it a “huddle” because it is not ameeting. It is just a quick catch up to share the focus for the day, deal with any challenges and aligning objectives. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes of your time.

Here are some ways on how to keep your huddles short but effective:

tips for daily huddle

Take this as an opportunity to communicate with your FPA—explain any complex tasks, clarify concerns and also, commend small wins. This will bring clarity, cohesiveness, consistency and motivation to your team. Commit to it for a month as a trial and we promise you, with the result and time you will save, you will wonder why you haven’t done it any sooner. Start today!

Dedicated Paraplanners: Take the hassle off delivering advice

Dedicated Paraplanners: Take the hassle off delivering advice

Less hassle, less cost yet consistent and more efficient.

Late last year, we refocused our paraplanning services by offering dedicated paraplanners to our clients. With this service, a dedicated offshore paraplanner is assigned to a particular client where they work as a part of their team similar to how our existing admin staff (financial planning assistants, executive assistants, etc.) work with their clients.

We provide training and onboarding the same way we do with our admin staff. We ensure all the processes for generating advice documents and client preferences are covered.

Why is it better to have a dedicated paraplanner?

By having a dedicated paraplanner, you will have someone proactively work with your admin team to complete all necessary tasks which can reduce the turnaround time as an SOA can be delivered together with an SOA pack (all the supporting documentation to implement the advice).

With a paraplanner exclusively working for your firm, he/she is able to learn your process and preference, allowing them to understand how you want certain tasks to be done. This is a huge benefit as it improves overall work efficiency as they get to know the advisers and their requirements and are able to easily clarify issues with advisers without lots of reworks.

How our dedicated paraplanners helped our clients

We now have 19 dedicated paraplanners working for 14 clients, with more currently in training. We are regularly adding more to our team as we cater to more clients.

Our paraplanners undergo intensive initial training with RG146 qualification. They are also provided with ongoing training and ensure they meet 40 CPD per annum.

“Staff are eager to learn and I have found that as they build the relationship with the client they are more confident in raising issues. The feedback from clients is very positive regarding the dedicated paraplanner model.” says Head of Paraplanning Jason McDonald.

Here are a couple more feedback, this time from clients themselves:

To learn more about the how our paraplanning services work, our fees, compliance, training and to register your interest :

WATCH: VBP Family Day 2018

WATCH: VBP Family Day 2018

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

At VBP, we respect each other and embrace diversity. People genuinely care for one another. Our bond goes far beyond the typical “co-worker” relationship—we are more than just a team; we are a family.

Celebrating One World and Family Spirit

This year, we held our very first VBP Family Day. Everyone had the chance to bring their families and loved ones along. It was an amazing Sunday filled with fun activities. In the same day, we also celebrated Father’s Day. We prepared a special tribute to all dads present in the event. There were talent presentations from families–kids sang and dance with their parents. Such a precious sight!

The VBP Family Day is a celebration of one of our core values: One World and Family Spirit. As we always mention, in VBP, we treat each other like family so it is also important for us that our loved ones get a glimpse of who we are as a company.

We believe it is important that our loved ones also get the chance to connect with our business by knowing what we do and who we work with; as well as understand our culture in order to build trust and confidence that we belong in a company that does not only give us the opportunity to grow, but also values what’s important to their team.

See photos in our VBP Careers & Culture Facebook page. And the highlights from the VBP Family Day 2018 in the video below:

Client Data Protection: Why we use LastPass and why you should too

Client Data Protection: Why we use LastPass and why you should too

Online security is one of the major priorities in businesses today. Especially with us in the financial planning industry, this is crucial in protecting our processes since most of the data (if not all) we’re dealing with are confidential.

Passwords are one common way to lock in these important information. It’s everywhere—from mobile phone apps to bank accounts to e-mails and other forms of communication—that sometimes it’s too hard to keep track of them all. Can you even count how many password-protected accounts you have created since the time you signed up for your first e-mail address?

It certainly is a hassle trying to remember all the unique passwords you have created. In VBP, we use a password manager called LastPass. It’s a “vault” that stores all our account usernames and passwords for different websites and platforms. It keeps everything in one place.

What we should stop doing

Admit it or not, we are all guilty of having poor practices in managing passwords. One of which is using weak passwords which makes it so easy for hackers to guess correctly with simple password-cracking tools. We are also guilty of re-using passwords. Using the same password across different accounts is something a lot of people continue to do.

Another common habit is having a master list or sheet of login usernames and passwords that is shared to everyone, and even writing them down in sticky notes in the desktop. The list could go on but for us who are in the financial planning industry, prioritising password protection management is a sure means to stay away from technical hitches.

Why we use LastPass

Using a tool like LastPass saves us time from remembering and manually listing down all our passwords. It also helps us to avoid the poor habits in password management. We use LastPass for the following reasons:

  1. It allows us to share our username and password (and even in groups) when necessary, without exposing the actual codes and pins. When there are changes in passwords, it automatically updates the shared ones.
  2. It is IP restricted which means that the staff can only use their LastPass accounts from the office internet connection.
  3. The client is in full control, they can revoke access and sharing anytime.
  4. Bulletproofing against phishing attacks and keyloggers.
  5. It has layers upon layers of protection in place to secure your data. Everything stored in LastPass are encrypted with a master key that only you have access to. To further protect this, they also have multifactor authentication and anytime someone logs in from a new device or location, you will be notified for verification.


Business Process: Why is it so important when outsourcing?

Business Process: Why is it so important when outsourcing?

Learn the most important tips for letting go of tasks and delegating to your staff

Businesses create processes  to improve overall operational performance and increase workforce efficiencies. Processes  are very useful in all areas of an organisation but oftentimes, they are poorly planned and structured. This causes confusion when different employees need to go through a process of a specific area of the business and there is no flow of the process. As a result, accuracy and consistency is highly affected.

Workflow VS Business Process

Most financial planning firms have some form of workflows. A workflow basically represents the approach on what needs to happen (set of tasks) to complete a piece of work (often specific to a client like a review meeting).

Meanwhile, a business process teaches us how to do each task in the workflow. Business process documentation is the process of creating materials containing manuals (ours are all online) and step-by-step guides of completing tasks and processes and provide tips and checklist to follow to ensure a consistent outcome for completing a series of task in a workflow.

Both of these work together to make a more efficient and systematic business operation. On our experience, firms usually rely on a lot of assumed knowledge on how to do tasks when they hire a staff. Therefore, it takes a long time to get someone confident and independent in completing workflows (not to mention a lot of handholding).

How to document your business process?

In VBP, we follow a standard process in documentation:

  1. Complete Workbook. The workbook allows you to think about your business process and create an outline of the process.
  2. Create Flowchart. By creating a visual flowchart or a swim lane diagram, we get clarity on who’s responsible for each step of the process.
  3. Client Training. All training sessions will be recorded for future references and will show a step-by-step demonstration of how the process is being completed.
  4. Edit and Save Videos. All videos will be edited. VBP will remove all unnecessary parts of the training video and retain only the important parts that are relevant to the topic being discussed making it easier and faster to reference in the future.
  5. Create manuals. In addition to the videos, manuals will also be created for the CSRs to easily browse through the manual if there is a particular step they need to review.
  6. Upload Materials to the Intranet. All of the training materials including your templates, reference material, links, videos, and manuals will be in uploaded to one centralised location–the client intranet. This will be the main resource of your CSR when completing tasks for you.
  7. Client Sign Off. After all of these have been completed, a link to your intranet will be sent to you for you to review the content.

Once everything is documented a process should have 6 key elements:


How does process documentation benefit your business?

There are 5 main advantages of business process documentation:

  • Tasks are completed exactly how you need them to be completed.
  • If you need to take leave from work, someone else can cover for you and help with your tasks.
  • Easily share task instructions with colleagues and new hires.
  • It increases efficiency as it’s easier to keep track of the progress of a task/project and identify any blockages along the way.
  • It adds value to the business especially when you consider purchasing, as it will be easier to integrate new business into your documented processes. In the same way when you plan to sell your business, having a structured and well documented process can add significant value to potential purchaser.

Some tools we use for documentation include: Zoom to hold client training or meetings, Snagit to record all training sessions, Camtasia to edit videos, Screensteps to create manuals, Lucid Chart to create process flow charts and Google Sites to host client intranet.

When a workflow is properly documented with clear business processes, the main benefit is, it is much faster to get a new staff member up and running as they have more confidence around the work being done.

Whether you are considering outsourcing or wanting to scale your business with internal staff, this statement holds true “Customise the Advice, Sytemise the Process”.