As many of us are all too well aware, these unprecedented times are changing the way in which we do business. For some of us, remote work is the new normal and although we’ve had nearly half a year to adjust, there are still things we haven’t quite gotten used to (and let’s face it—we may never).
Many small advisory firms looking to expand their business have found themselves weighing the decision to outsource tasks that are monopolizing too much of their time. If you find that 24 hours in a day is not enough to complete everything on your to-do list, then you might find the option of adding on a specialized back-office support team to assist you with important but time-consuming tasks that don't fuel you.
Outsourcing, especially in a virtual environment, is not a new theme; however, the pandemic has amplified the prevalence of this phenomenon. Back-office support teams can look very different depending on the type of work you need help with. There are numerous types of back-office support teams that specialize in assisting your firm with the operational tasks for particular offerings you provide your clients.
One excellent back-office support team that provides a clear value-add for your firm is working with a TAMP. You can use a TAMP to outsource the investment management side of your business. This type of back-office support can include help with the necessary paperwork, communicating and fielding questions with the custodian, and implementing the whole investment management process for your firm.
Regardless of your exposure to investment management, you can leverage a TAMP team to offer this additional service to your clients without the huge time commitment. TAMPs can also provide additional value to your firm beyond assistance with managing your clients investment accounts. Educational training and office hours are common added benefits that TAMPs like XY Investment Solutions continue to provide their advisors.
Regardless of the type of outsourcing you need, cultivating a back-office team such as a TAMP can allow for you to delegate tasks as needed while you focus on the growth of your advisory firm. When you make the decision to add on a back-office team such as a TAMP, there comes a certain type of etiquette and communication that is required in order to effectively engage with this type of service. Some of you might be seasoned professionals of outsourcing work and others might be introducing this into your life for the first time.
Regardless of your background, this article provides some helpful suggestions to ensure you are able to clearly and successfully communicate with your TAMP back-office team.
In this post, we'll cover best practices for:
- Setting up planning meetings with your TAMP
- Clear Communications
- Leveraging your back-office team's expertise
- Managing time frame expectations
When working remotely, we can easily lose some of the immediacy of being able to walk across the office or catch someone by the coffee pot in order to ask for a quick favor or request. This type of communication is one that does not easily transfer over to a remote working environment.
Within our new normal, it is important to have our requests written out in a thoughtful and intentional way. Sending messages of what you expect to happen is important when working with a TAMP service team. Making sure that all individuals on your team are on the same page can ensure that the vision and necessary tasks will be completed in a timely manner.
If you have a new client who will be opening up multiple investment accounts and moving assets over, it can be helpful for both you and your TAMP support team to understand any nuances to the request and manage expectations. Sending an email about the situation or requesting a 15-minute call can offer the opportunity to have that discussion. This will help your TAMP support team have a clearer idea as to what you are expecting from the upcoming task at hand.
Although these meetings and intentional email sending might be more time-consuming than what most of us are used to, carving out time for such conversations allow people to be on the same page, regardless of location.
Offer Clear Communication Within Your Correspondence
Email is a frequent form of communication for requests, especially in our digital age and in a virtual environment. While no one would argue that email is an incredibly useful form of communication, there is one major pitfall: there's a greater chance for misinterpretations. This is in large part due to the fact that body language and physical cues can no longer be picked up on while asking for requests. It can also be hard to pick up on the body language even while on a video conference call due to the delayed timed response as well as only being able to see people’s faces.
Writing is certainly an art form, and as such can be interpreted many different ways. Working within the financial industry involves us working with people’s money, which in short is their livelihoods. When making requests or initiating actions that entail the need to be responsible for the well-being of others, it is incredibly important that we are doing everything within our power to act in an effective, straightforward approach. Your back-office team must maintain that same level of responsibility. Making sure that you can provide detailed instructions about what you want the team to accomplish will ensure that tasks are done correctly. One best practice is to assume that the person you’re working with does not immediately understand your request. Veering on the side of over-explanation when expressing a request over an electronic correspondence can lead to more successful outcomes and a stronger partnership with your TAMP team.
That being said, finding the right balance between enough detail and too much information can be a tricky line to walk. Flowery writing within business emails does not correlate to a more successful outcome of a task. As one of my old professors liked to say, "Be Hemingway, not Joyce," which means that you want to be direct within your messages. Adding additional sentences or unnecessary information will not allow your TAMP to complete your service requests any faster. You might be wondering how you can be clear with your instructions while also being brief—being concise while also providing sufficient information are not mutually exclusive acts.
One effective strategy to assist with being concise and descriptive is to break down requests into a numbered outline. If you need five tasks done for a client’s Roth IRA that need to be completed in a specific order, make five bullet point sentences or tiny briefs about each step. This allows for the recipient of the message to understand your thought process and outline of what needs to be completed, while also visually understanding the necessary steps.
Another factor to consider when writing out requests to your back-office team is to be selective with your words. When working with client’s money we need to ensure that we are working in a thoughtful manner and choosing your words wisely. Having a message such as, "This account needs to have money pulled in from their checking" can be open for interpretation. For example, does that mean you want to have your support team submit that request? Or is that a task that you are personally going to enact? What if this client has multiple checking accounts? This might cause an issue that leads to more than one party submitting a request for the same act.
Limiting any sort of room for interpretation is very important for you and your TAMP service team, who wants to accomplish your requests while not overstepping boundaries or assuming they know what you want completed. Adding some specificity to your message can also reduce the amount of messages that need to be sent back and forth between you and your support team. Here's an example of a clearer version of the same message from above:
"The account ending xx1234 needs to have X amount of money pulled in from their checking account at Bank 123, please initiate this request."
This example expresses what needs to happen and also dictates who needs to complete the task. Not only does it ensure collective understanding, but it also provides appropriate documentation and another level of safety for you and your firm.
When in Doubt, Ask for Help
Your TAMP is your partner—lean on them! This relationship allows for you to more effectively grow your business and offer higher quality investment management service to your clients. When in a partnership, there is room for collaboration. If you have a project that needs to be completed that is new to you, your TAMP can provide helpful insight and offer some additional research and investigation.
It is also important to note that while your back-office team is serving your firm, they more than likely also work closely with other firms who have made similar requests. With that experience, there is a high level of expertise and understanding of specific tasks, acts, etc. that you might not have as much familiarity with. When you find yourself in this type of position, consider reaching out to your TAMP for their input. Even if they are not entirely familiar with a certain request, they can always assist in redirecting or connecting you to the proper channels.
Manage Time Frame Expectations
Although correspondence travels rapidly in today's digital world, it is important to realize that when working with a back-office team such as a TAMP, not everything possesses the same level of immediacy. Working with an outsourced support team requires a level of coordination and understanding that can take longer to complete.
The first step is to understand what standard levels of response times are for your TAMP. Standard service requests such as sending paperwork out to clients for a signature can easily be completed within one full business day. However, if your request deviates from the norm in some way, consider sending a message to your TAMP to schedule a call or ask for an estimated timeframe and outline of what the process might look.
Requests might also require your support team to get in touch with third parties such as custodians and other vendors to make sure your request can be completed in a seamless manner. This can most often occur in the case when a request has multiple moving parts or is multi-pronged project. Sometimes these expectations can be helpful to cascade down to your clients as well to ensure that they are aware of the coordination of events that are necessary for requests to be completed. Setting up expectations with your clients about the necessary time frame to complete tasks also prevents any confusion or frustration later on in the process.
Working with a TAMP back-office team can provide a true value-add and bolster the longevity of your firm. With the above suggestions at your disposal, the use of a TAMP can be a very rewarding and helpful experience.
About the Author
Lillie is a Platform & Operations Specialist for XY Investment Solutions (XYIS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of XY Planning Network, which offers a turnkey asset management platform for XYPN’s 850+ advisor community specifically built to support next-generation clients still in the early stages of accumulation.
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