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October 2021

Who will command your bots? (By David Smith, Smithink)

By In the Media, Industry, TechnologyNo Comments

Published by Smithink
Written by David Smith on 8 October 2021
Click here to read on the Smithink website

Who will command your bots?

Picture a world where you receive a message every morning from your robots that have already done most of the procedural work for you and have even gone as far as letting clients know the status of their work. Seems fanciful? Well, it’s coming faster than you think.

All of the larger firms are making a significant investment in this technology. There are now sophisticated tools available that don’t require programming expertise to develop these bots that take over simple repetitive tasks. Robots can seamlessly move data from one application to another by mimicking activities such as clicking, typing, and moving between windows.

Perhaps even more interesting or scary, depending upon your perspective, is that these robots can learn to enhance their own capability.

While the sophisticated Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools are still quite expensive for smaller businesses it is clear that more and more providers will emerge with pricing more attractive for smaller firms.

UI Vision is an example of a company with some free tools. Microsoft has Power Automate where you can try it for free.

The concept is not that difficult although the tools do allow quite sophisticated implementations.

At a simple level, these tools can record and execute macros. A macro is a set of stored keystrokes that the system can automate. Systems can incorporate macros recorders that will record a user’s keystrokes to provide a starting point for bot development. These stored keystrokes can be edited to create the automated bot. There are quite a number of macro recorders on the market. More sophisticated functionality comes from the more expensive Robotic Process Automation applications. If you’re interested, have a look at:

https://www.blueprism.com/

https://www.automationanywhere.com/

https://www.uipath.com/

There are quite a number of others.

Interestingly, this concept of macros recorders has been around for a long time. In the 1980s there was a product called Smarkey that stored keystrokes for DOS applications. In my firm, we created quite a sophisticated macro that enabled us to convert all of our ledgers from one supplier’s software to another. The new supplier was so impressed they used it as a conversion tool for other customers. We had 2,000 ledgers – each was converted in less than five minutes with no human intervention. Ponder the cost-saving from just that one application.

In a world where labour is increasingly difficult to find with rising costs, firms will need to turn to these technologies to enable work to be completed quickly and cost-effectively. Those that end up having an array of bots for these repetitive tasks will have a sustainable competitive advantage

So what are you going to do? You need a champion to drive it. Someone with a good mind for processes and a technology bent. Again not an easy person to find. I suspect they will exist in the younger ranks. There will be grads emerging with Robotic Process Automation knowledge. Many would find the opportunity to revolutionise the firm’s processes as an exciting opportunity.

If you possess these skills in your firm, I’m sure there is a service opportunity to assist your clients with their own bot development.

So if you wish to lead your firm to a successful future, Robotic Process Automation should be on your radar. Spend some time reading some papers on it and consider how investing in the technology may deliver significant benefits to your firm and your clients.

Customer Experience Strategy: Building the boat!

By Bec Loves CX, Homepage, IndustryNo Comments

Before we can steer the ship, we must first build the boat!

Last month, we worked on coming to terms with how clients truly perceive us, and we’ve got a pretty good understanding of what remarkable experiences are. The next question we need to ask ourselves is “What’s next?”.

Before we can steer the ship, we must first build the boat! This is where your Customer Experience Strategy comes into play. Call me a CX nerd, but I absolutely LOVE this part of the process as it’s where creative freedom is your friend and you start to bring CX to life.

The CXPA defines the CX strategy as “… our intended Customer Experience, how it links to our overall organisation strategy and objectives and how it aligns to our brand values and attributes.” This will build the foundations of your approach to customer experience and give your team direction.

We need to create our vision, values, and branding, centred around CX and aligned with the business direction. This will build a foundation for realistic expectations of experience for your staff and your clients.

For some inspiration, The Ritz Carlton Hotel penned their CX vision as “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”. When I read this, I would assume that as a customer of the Ritz I could expect an experience of a glamorous standard, to be wined and dined. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hector Elizondo from ‘Pretty Woman’ was there, ready to teach me which fork goes first. I drew this conclusion from one sentence, powerful right?

Once you have your vision, you can build on this with values. These are generally short points outlining the core values that support your vision and sets a standard of what you might look for in potential applicants that join your team in future. For example, if I were tasked with writing the values that underpin The Ritz Carlton’s vision it would comprise of words such as:

  • Opulence
  • Exclusive
  • Personal
  • Refined

Now that you have your vision and values, we need to consider what implicit and explicit promises your business is making to the wider audience. Below are some questions to ask internally and externally – Remember, we can never assume we know the answer ourselves!

  • What are our clients’ expectations of the experience we should be providing, based on the impression our brand portrays?
  • What specific promises are we making? 
  • Are our clients’ expectations of CX, and the promises we make around CX, align with our CX and business strategy?
    • Are they realistic expectations? 
    • How can we make sure we get this right from the very beginning of a client’s journey?

Now you are armed with this information, the boat won’t build itself! Block out some time to meet with your team and brainstorm how you could approach this.

Simple Invest 360 is a ‘game-changer’

By Case Study, Simple Invest 360No Comments

Simple Invest 360 is a ‘game-changer’ in terms of time-saving, cost efficiencies and overall administrative cohesion across both of our core divisions

About Lantana Private Wealth

Lantana Private Wealth is a high functioning, multi-disciplined firm located in Malvern, Melbourne. With both a public practice taxation division operating in cohesion with a fully self-licenced financial planning and wealth management service offering, clients are provided with a genuinely bespoke ‘one stop shop’. With the firm priding itself on maintaining a highly personalised client experience and results-driven advice process, the firm has grown into an award-winning and highly respected professional services group.

The Challenge

Efficiently implementing a software package that could be used for both ATO reporting plus client-facing performance and valuation reports

As the Director of both our taxation and wealth management division, Brett was looking for a software package that could be used for both ATO tax reporting and client-facing performance and valuation reports. Some of the initial challenges included the time in having to set up equities and cash account data feeds, particularly given as he wanted to proceed with a bulk set-up of non-SMSF entity types.

“These concerns were quickly overcome, with BGL always providing me with support from a senior product manager with a rapid response every time, invariably in less than a few hours!”

Brett was also concerned about client take-up considering how time poor many are. He found, however, that with the intuitive self-guided initial setup (including secure MFA), “…the delivery of Simple Invest 360 has been both seamless and critically enjoyed by clients.”

Why Simple Invest 360

A ‘game-changer’ in terms of time-saving, cost efficiencies and overall administrative cohesion across both of our core divisions

“We had previously been using BGL’s software offering for SMSF preparation (Simple Fund 360) and were already well aware of BGL’s abilities in this space. Being able to extend the taxation works for non-SMSF entity types, while simultaneously eliminating the then duplicated client reporting software, was a ‘game-changer’ in terms of time-saving, cost efficiencies and overall administrative cohesion across both of our core divisions.”

The Solution

The speed with which a new entity can be set up plus complete data feed configuration were integral

When looking for a technology stack solution, Brett and the team at Lantana Private Wealth focused on cost; speed of implementation; ease of implementation; reliability; support and overall, both internal and client user experience.

The speed with which a new entity can be set up plus complete data feed configuration were integral to the decision to use Simple Invest 360. “The last thing our office wants to be doing, nor our clients’ spending their time on, is having to fiddle around with clunky back-end processes and then having to test the veracity of these.”

The Results

Ever-desired transparency and assurance across the entire spectrum; more time to provide higher value work for clients

“Clients now have the ability to view their investment entities in fully APESB quality, ‘24/7’ via the web and/or via BGL’s secure mobile application (Engage by BGL). This has further increased clients’ transparency over their investments, particularly by our many HNW clients, understandably demanding higher than ever visibility over their FUM.

The fact that the taxation team, wealth management team and client are working off or viewing the same data file has saved a vast amount of time and cost in managing a secondary system, otherwise required for client reporting purposes. This is especially relevant for our firm as our wealth management division is and always has been off-platform, designed to reduce as many client-costs as possible.”

The fact that both our accounting and wealth management divisions are viewing the same data file, in tandem with clients, promotes ever-desired transparency and assurance across the entire spectrum.

With the efficiencies gained from using Simple Invest 360, Brett and the team now have more time to spend providing higher value work for their clients, without having to manage multiple systems. This includes being able to spend more time speaking with clients face-to-face or virtually, if preferred.

About Brett

After gaining experience at Deloitte and with a series of boutique advisory practices, Brett founded Lantana Private Wealth with a sole focus on individual, family groups and SME client types. Brett holds undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications from Monash University, where he was also a resident lecturer and Scholarly Teaching Fellow for four years. Brett is a registered Financial Adviser, Tax (Financial) Adviser, SMSF & direct securities specialist; and Responsible Manager of the Group’s AFSL. In Brett’s spare time, he enjoys photography, learning different languages and travelling back to Gippsland where he grew up.

Victoria – The place no one wants to be – Part 2

By UncategorisedOne Comment

I have not written for a while about the depressing situation in Victoria. For those in the other states, believe me when I say “depressed” is an understatement of the way people in Victoria feel. Angry, frustrated, over it – I could go on and on.

The question I keep asking myself is how did it get to be this bad? How did Melbourne go from the world’s most livable city to the world’s most locked down city, and why or how did we let this happen?

Well, let’s look at the how first – how did this happen? Last night our Chief Health Officer (CHO) Brett Sutton told us he had no choice but to lock Melbourne down for 246 days. Really? No choice? Then why did the CHO’s in 1,170 cities (with populations of more than 500,000) not feel they had no choice but to lock down their cities? Why only Melbourne? I think the record lockdowns have more to do with your competency than anything else. YOU could not find other solutions. YOU only had one card in the pack – lockdown. lockdown, lockdown. You have destroyed Melbourne. All the things that were great – sporting events, theatre, restaurants, shopping – all gone – under YOUR watch. That will be your legacy as CHO

And then there is SlugGate. For those who are not aware of SlugGate, Sutton closed down a food business because a slug was found in their food kitchen. However the slug appears to have been planted by a council Inspector. The matter is before the courts but check out the link for more info. If these charges are proven, and it looks like they will be, Sutton will be remembered not only for being incompetent and totally out of his depth (obviously) but also corrupt.

But Sutton would not have been able to lock down Victoria for 246 days, without the complicity of our Dear Leader. Sutton and Andrews will both be remembered as the people who destroyed Melbourne and killed 802 Victorians through their bungled hotel quarantine. Everyone seems to forget that according to the Victorian Health Department Organisational Chart, Sutton was in charge of hotel quarantine. Why was he not sacked? Does he know too many dirty little secrets?

Why has Andrews not resigned? Gladys Berejiklian resigned when an inquiry was announced – that took guts. Andrews has no guts. He does not take any responsibility for anything, yet he is the man in charge. All this happened under his watch. 246 days of lockdown. 802 + deaths. The most cruel and debilitating restrictions in the world – restrictions that make no sense and some that even help spread COVID-19.

Let me name a few – golf, fishing, boating, tennis, lawn bowls, playgrounds, skate parks, outdoor exercise equipment – all shut down? Why? What’s the logic? Yet building workers can play on their sites throughout the whole pandemic (save 2 weeks)? Why? Because Andrews needs money from the building unions to get re-elected.  And why are we forced to wear masks outside when your risk of catching COVID-19 outside is so low? When governments enact stupid laws or regulations the people eventually say – enough is enough.  In Victoria this has taken far too long.

And then along came Victoria Police. When I grew up, I was taught to respect the police. I was taught the police were there to protect me. Boy how things have changed. The Victoria police have become bullies. They have lost the respect of the community. When police throw little old ladies to the ground and then spray them with pepper spray, brutally throw citizens talking to police to the ground, swarm and attack protestors with rubber bullets and tear gas, they lose the respect of the community. I know not all police are like this but there would appear to be a culture of brutality in the Victorian police that I have never seen before in my lifetime. When the police are being used as political enforcers’ by Andrews to enforce dumb laws enacted by an incompetent CHO, their ability to police disappears. And this has happened in Victoria. The people of Victoria no longer respect the police and this, I think, is a real problem for our future.

The incompetence and ineptitude of Andrews and Sutton was certainly the main cause of the Victorian devastation – but the other complicit organisations are the media. Where is the media scrutiny we expect in a democracy? Where is investigative journalism? Most of the media are just cheerleaders for the incompetents. They should be the ones out there questioning how thes 2 incompetents have handled COVID-19 in Victoria not sucking up to them to get the next exclusive. And why is the Andrews government the only government in Australia that does not provide transcripts of press conferences? Isn’t the reason obvious? This way he can’t be fact checked.

I mentioned earlier there were two things I think this inept state government did or didn’t do that actually contributed significantly to the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria. The first thing is the curfew. The curfew forces people to all go out at the same time meaning more people are compacted in more places to spread the virus. Look at the crowds in the parks (not a problem) and the supermarkets. And then there is the total inability of this hopeless government to implement a contact tracing system that works. Contact tracing in Victoria has not worked since day one. This is the No. 1 reason Victoria is in the mess it is in today. This is why the case numbers have gone up. Contact tracing is at least two weeks behind – so yes – it is absolutely useless.

The other thing that concerns me is the scare, scare, scare. Everything still seems to be about case numbers. Case numbers are irrelevant as 99%+ of people who get COVID-19 have no or mild symptoms. Less than 1% of cases end up in hospital or the ICU. (PS: Remember the 4,000 ICU beds Andrews promised in March 2020 – searching, searching, searching – can’t find them? Neither can I).

Apart from the lack of honesty, integrity and leadership from Andrews, the thing that annoys me the most is the lack of accountability. Everything is everyone else’s fault. It is like a child in the playground – he did it, he did it – not me, When the numbers go up it is because we had Grand Final parties (BTW: with contract tracing two weeks behind, there was NO evidence Grand Final parties spread the virus) or we didn’t follow his inane rules. Always everyone else’s fault. Real leaders take responsibility. All of you do in your businesses.

The lockdown policies in Victoria have been a complete failure. The incompetence of Andrews, Sutton and the government is breathtaking.

A quick comment about vaccinations. I am fully vaccinated but I strongly oppose mandatory vaccination. How dare these government officials tell me or you what to put in your bodies.

I am really scared for the future of my children. One son already lives in the UK and another is thinking of joining him. They don’t want to live in Victoria like the 43,000 other now ex-Victorians that have left between the start of the pandemic and 31 March 2021. Many more will leave once they can – and I will probably be one of them. Who wants to live in a place that is so depressing when you have a choice?

So where is the future? I do not think Victoria will recover until Andrews, Sutton and Sally Capp (Melbourne’s Lord Mayor) are all gone. No one has confidence in any of them. Capp has destroyed movement in and out of the city with crippling bike lanes, removal of 1,000’s of parking spaces and a proposed new access fee. This on top of the parking space tax. Andrews and Sutton have destroyed business in Melbourne. So many empty shops and restaurants and how many other businesses that will never return.

There will be no change unless YOU are prepared to make it happen. Most of the media are complicit. It is time for you to take a stand!

Divided we fall. United we stand.

By No Drama with TrammaNo Comments

Divided we fall. United we stand.

We have all heard these words. I believe them to be the very fabric of what makes us, our families, friendships, organisations and society great.

Never have these words been more relevant, real and alive. Just look at the events taking place across every area of this great nation and the people who chose to call it home. Never have I seen such division and hatred amongst fellow Australians.

So much for the “We are ONE and free” in our national anthem. Words proudly sung, but sadly have not foothold in the heart.

So often I hear words uttering the importance of inclusion. Dishing out high fives for embracing diversity and taking a stance against discrimination. Model citizens everywhere. Yet, division has never been greater over what in the end will be trivial matters.

In speaking to so many people, I have heard of many great stories and also many heartbreaking stories. To hear of great examples of people extending a hand to those in need has inspired hope and brought out the best in humankind. From people paying for coffees for a day at the local cafe, to those dropping off food parcels and care packs to those in need, these actions have given me a great sense of hope that we can bounce back and do so strongly.

I have also heard of heartbreaking stories. People going hungry, not being able to pay their bills, being stripped of their pride and dignity. The list tragically goes on and on.

The most difficult one for me to understand though is the ending of lifelong friendships. Friendships brought to an end over differences in opinions and personal choices. People quarrelling with the very friend(s) they have done life with for so long. The very friend who stood by them in the times of adversity and celebrated alongside them for special milestones and achievements. I simply do not get it.

People should be doing all they can to protect and preserve their friendships. Instead they allow senseless matters to destroy them.

The time will come when we look back at this and reflect on these times. My view is that it won’t be too long before we will look back AND say to ourselves, “What was all of that about?”. We will question the friendships we ended. The choices we made. The time we lost that we will never get back.

For some of us, we will be more isolated and alone than ever before because we didn’t stand for what is important. We will ask ourselves, to what avail? Let me tell you, none!

For me, my friendships have never been more important and or more valued. I simply would not be able to do life without them.

Please work to be united with your friends and loved ones. Don’t allow what is going on to divide you.

At the end of this, we want to be able to stand tall and united, surrounded by those dear and important to us.