Gallagher Benefit Services (GBS), a financial planning division of a large global corporate, experienced significant growth over the past five years. This growth included business ownership transitions, system overhauls, and acquisitions of new practices with disparate systems. To take the next big step, GBS sought a partner with deep expertise in financial planning and technology to help optimise operations, address existing gaps, and prepare the firm for future acquisitions.
Having worked with technology specialists elsewhere, they sought a partner who could go beyond answering questions and instead help them first ask the correct ones.
Taking a process and problem-led approach, coupled with the skills and determination (possibly stubbornness) to take the job all the way to the end, the outcome is a true reset for GBS and is a journey we’re proud to share.
GBS faced several challenges, including:
- Consistency of vision, advice, and process
- Technology and back-office inefficiencies
- Impacts of past acquisitions and challenges to future ones
Our team engaged with GBS to implement a comprehensive plan of action, which consisted of two distinct phases:
Phase 1 – discovery and collaboration
We conducted a thorough practice diagnostic, including a team survey, process mapping workshops, team interviews, and collaboration through a multi-disciplinary round-table process. Acquisitions over the years included a core business that had won AFA Practice of the Year, and other businesses which had won multiple awards in their own right. As such, great care was required to ensure we could build consistency without lessening the parts that together could make an even greater whole. This included a major stocktake of all templates in use, templates that had fallen out of use, identifying items that required improvement, and selecting items across different teams which each brought great content to the table.
We identified the highest priorities for change and developed an action plan, using the Knoster Model for Implementing Complex Change to ensure effective change management and reduce potential resistance, confusion, anxiety, frustration, and false starts. The end result was a documented process map delivered digitally and interactively through Lucidchart, supported by a comprehensive Work Breakdown Schedule delivered through Asana.
Phase 2 – Action planning and implementation
After completing Phase 1, we moved forward with our implementation sprint, supporting GBS in areas such as very detailed Xplan thread building, best-in-class template adoption, training material creation incl. Loom videos, a staggered pilot site-by-site rollout, and more. We also facilitated continuous improvement through regular iterations and ongoing process enhancements.
Significant parts of our work required us to push through items that had previously seemed too hard to tackle. This included:
- Working across multiple teams and multiple sites to build a detailed and centralised schedule of thread, task, note, email, search, and more templates in Xplan.
- Centralisation of a single coded group-wide email signature template that could support three main sites, and multiple exceptions, enabling streamlined email template management.
- Comprehensive use of our Calendly Setup Service, including the centralisation of over a dozen individual accounts and coverage of multiple sites.
- Analysis of all Xplan Notes (including more than ten years of history), provision of best practice Xplan Note Structure and Template Package, managed implementation to the new format, and write up of supporting SharePoint page content.
- Rollout of our Xplan Alerts package, ensuring the changes we’re building stick into the future.
- Provision of our unique and comprehensive FDS and Review reporting, meeting GBS strict data security requirements and leveraging their existing technology (yup, we mean Xplan and MS Excel).
- Data analysis, combining Xplan and Revex data supporting a ‘whole of client’ view across multiple-entity structures, identification of potential at-risk clients, and recategorisation of clients.
Our partnership with GBS led to significant improvements in operations and client experience:
- Enhanced consistency in vision, advice, process, and client experience across locations.
- Improved technology and back-office efficiency, leveraging much more of their existing technology stack.
- Streamlined processes and systems, paving the way to welcome new firms into the GBS group.
By addressing these challenges and implementing our comprehensive plan of action, GBS is now well-positioned for continued growth and success in the financial planning industry. Furthermore, the team at GBS are a quality bunch, and it was a pleasure to work with them on such an important initiative.
Don’t just take our word for it; read how GBS found the partnership.
As a business we were experiencing a variety of operating challenges arising from a number of acquisitions in quick succession, with disparate processes, limited automation and a rapidly changing statutory environment / industry, all of which were inhibiting growth and productivity.
Patrick, Rachael and the team were quickly able to help us identify, assess, re-imagine and implement improvements to our existing business processes and imbed new workflows, allowing us to build a scalable and sustainable operating model for the future. The team brought a depth of past experiences to the table allowing us to cut through the noise and make informed decisions quickly and with confidence.
Highly recommended!Kyle Thompson, Senior Financial Planner/Head of Executive Financial Planning
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