In a modern practice, the adoption of specialist cloud-based SMSF software is only one part of the jigsaw in developing a solution that is truly customer-centric. After introducing Steph Hinds from Growthwise onto stage as a speaker at last year’s BGL RegTech, I listened with great intent as she spoke to the ‘tech stack’ she uses an accountant in business today. It really struck a chord with me as an early adopter of technology, now being entirely cloud-based within my business since inception over 7 years ago. It was this combination of leveraging specialisation, technology and processes that spawned a business model to succeed today.
Did I get this right from day one? Absolutely not! In our first three years, we had three different CRMs, much to the disgust of my team. But it allowed us to iterate and find something that would allow us to create something consistent with our purpose (which too has evolved) of inspiring best practice amongst SMSF professionals that enables better retirement outcomes for their clients. This is why today when I present on trends and challenges in the SMSF industry today, I never talk to “do as I say”, but rather to “do as I do…”
So, as we contemplate what the future may hold for the SMSF industry (with the Future of SMSF survey launching on 2 July 2018), I thought I’d share with you our ‘tech stack’ that we are use within our business today. Sure, we’ve got IP within our business that has been customised from the applications we use, but I share this for you to think about just what is possible for you and your business. Sure, it’s one thing to have the tools, but it’s what you do with it that counts…
I’ve included the list below that shows some of the internal and external (client-facing applications) web based applications we use, along with a brief description of their function. The focus here is not on the cloud-based SMSF software, but rather than other tools that support us in delivering solutions to our clients:
Infusionsoft is a huge part of our business… in many ways it acts as the ‘epicentre’ in dealing with all aspect of our client relationship management (CRM) – from contact records, sales and marketing, e-commerce, membership tracking, task management and workflow. The campaign builder is by far my favourite part of the software as it allows my creative mind to help map out, define and automate so much of the client engagement and tasks that were once hugely time intensive.
Importantly, it has an amazing marketplace for us to leverage further automation across our webinars, membership, events, and much more. Add-ons such as PlusThis allows us to automate back to Infusionsoft a range of activities including webinar attendees, event management, lifetime customer value calculations and much more. iMember360 is another critical piece, providing the ability to setup and maintain levels of access to the website content (e.g. training, documents) based upon the level of subscription or membership.
We continue to work with their API and are currently undertaking some really cool stuff integrating between Infusionsoft, Class, BGL and our member platform to proactively manage fund and member information such as pension levels, contribution caps, events-based reporting, total super balance (TSB) and more.
It’s hard to believe within such a short period of time how successful this application has become to communicate across our team of staff and external support – when you talk to people generally, it’s a very common story you hear across many industries. Slack has virtually replaced internal email within our business and has various channels to capture information for things such as our regular team meetings, core values, project discussions and much more.
We also centralise various communication points into Slack to help keep on top of ‘app fatigue’ – e.g. HelpScout messages come into a Slack channel to ensure timely response times.
We use Box.com to store all documents (and some other files) to collaborate both internally between staff and externally with clients. It allows us to easily share information to clients, including the ability to integrate with other applications such as DocuSign, Microsoft Office and more. Full version control, permission settings on documents, comments, password security and expiration links are just some of the functionality we use with Box. We also actively use the Box notes to collaborate on ideas internally.
We use Amazon Web Services (AWS) for a range of cloud web hosting solutions using the data centre in Sydney to host our platform and sites. Most importantly we can leverage the AWS infrastructure to meet the demands of use on our platform on an ongoing basis.
eWay acts as our primary payment gateway on the website and through plugins can seamlessly integrate back to Infusionsoft to match payments to orders on subscriptions, training, and document orders.
Providing timely customer support is fundamental to the success of any business, so to help us meet the demands of our clients we use HelpScout as our ticketing system to track inquiries and feedback from the support provided. We also link our time tracking for support to HelpScout to have an understanding of the hours logged and as mentioned above we’ve linked it back to Slack to centralise our communication points.
Wistia is our video platform of choice – it not only provides great customisation for our video content, but allow us to connect it to Infusionsoft to track how much time someone watches videos (e.g. webinars) for CPD purposes or even where we want to ensure that somebody watches enough of a video to see a call-to-action.
Having initially used GoToWebinar for a few years, I decided to jump ship when Zoom provided the ability to broadcast webinars directly to Facebook Live or YouTube Live. We also actively use Zoom for team meetings and meetings with clients/partners, etc.
Running our website on WordPress, we use Learndash to members to access all webinars and training courses we host online. It provides a Learning Management System (LMS) for our website so that users can go and watch training on any topic, at any time and on any device (full mobile responsive).
The weekly Smarter SMSF podcast is managed online using Podbean which provides podcast hosting and allows us to easily distribute our podcast to iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and other podcast apps. We can also share the podcast automatically across social media. To record the podcasts, I use either Audacity (solo podcasts) or Zoom (for interviews). All podcasts once complete are transcribed using Rev – this allows us to upload the transcription as a blog post and potentially use the materials for other purposes (e.g. eBooks).
The G Suite of products provides our email and calendar, along with spreadsheets and documents we use to collaborate across staff and some of our business partners (e.g. to review fund documents, tracking, etc.)
Zapier is great because it allows us to ‘connect to dots’ and seamlessly move information across multiple web applications, saving enormous amounts of time that we previously needed to remember and update manually. This may relate to simple tasks such as updating contact records across multiple applications, through to triggering processes to create CPD certificates (using Accredible) after having attended a training session. With over 1,000+ apps, the sky’s the limit!
Obtaining regular feedback is critical to the success of any business, and we use Survey Monkey as our primary tool to measure a range of activities, including our Future of SMSF survey.
Being active across social media, we use Buffer to help manage our posts across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.
We’ve just started to use Toggl to track time as part of our ‘support’ product offer. This tracks the time that we spend on a particular project/task so that we accurately measure against each subscription.
We use Canva to create a range of social media assets, email headers, brochures and more. With a large range of templates to choose from, once you’ve setup your brand colour palette, you’re good to go…
Calendly enable clients and prospects to schedule meetings and demos. You can set the available hours each day (or chosen days) within your calendar which then allows your client to choose a mutually convenient time.
So, there it is…. a sneak peak for you to what’s under the hood in our business when it comes to technology that helps us to meet the needs of our clients.
I’d love to hear in the comments about your ‘tech stack’ – the tools you use within your practice to manage workflow, reporting, social media and more…