You may recall that we migrated all our data from Freedom to the TP system which we were told was all singing and dancing with real time valuations. Well, not surprisingly, it's rubbish. I would like to restore all the data and return to the Freedom software you provided previously which did it's job well and didn't let us down. "
Keith Penfold, Managing Director
When we started looking for a client and business management system, we found that most of the obvious offers were over complicated and expensive to set up and use both in terms of capital expenditure and staff time.
Having relied on slow and inefficient paper files, we choose Freedom because we felt it would be easy to implement and use from our point of view and the clients would find the layout of the various reports and charts simple and easy to understand.
Since installing it earlier this year, when we have had any operational problems, Simon has been on the end of the phone and any questions have been answered promptly and thoroughly. We haven`t regretted choosing Freedom.
We had spent ages looking for the most suitable back-office system for our firm. We were 5 advisers and about the same in support so wanted something that would function well across a network. We wanted something that was easy to use, did all the usual stuff for us and – crucially – interacted with our procedure of scanning all documents. We wanted to partner with experienced folks, who were developing into the future of our industry, with clout and likely to be sticking around but not distracted by other projects.
We had looked very closely at the Positive Solutions model – excellent software, now “True Potential” (there’s also a version developed by part of the PS team as “2Plan”) - but didn’t want to join a national IFA. We wanted to be able to access the system from homes and other locations, if possible, too. We looked pretty widely and, although we may have missed some options, finally made a choice in Autumn 2005 amongst the usual suspects: 1<sup>st </sup>Software, Quay, Intelliflo, Plum and CCL.
We spent tens of thousands of pounds on implementation and training plus many hundreds every month on the licences for most of the team. We chose to have it hosted remotely and the data backed-up for us and we had lots of connections into Providers’ owns systems to update fund values etc.
What we found was that we had to “do” a lot of work to produce a simple letter to a client, that our own data was actually not very good, so we didn’t get much useful information from the system and, with the advent of RMAR, we had to do a lot of stuff outside the system to get the reports done. Ultimately after 2 years, we sacked the system, extracted the data we could and set off on a new search – poorer but wiser!
When I met Simon and Martin from Switch-on-Solutions at the Autumn 2007 Adviser Expo in Manchester, I was excited. Martin Andrews was an IFA like me and had been through a similar experience to me (but with different software) so he got his brother Simon to put something together that just does what he wants. It was so effective – and cost-effective – that he let a few others use it (for a fee) and decided to extend that.
I believe we were about the twelfth user, when we started with Freedom last December. My team - from Accounts to admin to IFAs - were dead impressed because the simple jobs are simple to do, Freedom links straight to the folders of scanned documents and you can get reports of things you want, looking the way you want them, from any data you’ve input. What’s even nicer – it costs a quarter of what I was paying for the other system – and that includes a weekly data-feed to update fund prices on clients’ holdings.
Let’s be fair – it’s not Intelliflo or True Potential but it saves me £600 a month and gives us vastly more than a quarter the value of the other system. If I have a question or a need (like flagging clients, who are currently contracted-out of S2P, on the front of their pension) I can ask Simon – the man himself - and he’ll put it in the next release because he can see its benefit and he can choose to do it.
We continue to work on our data – 16 years of history from 3 of the IFA team takes a while – and keep finding other things that Freedom does for us (like a simple, central contact database for Providers, phone and fax numbers – with hyper-links to web pages and email addresses! That’s a big help to be able to tell new staff where to look). As we build our database of funds invested, being able to see the value grow and sort it easily by fund (for when a manager leaves etc) we find more and more value.
I commend the Freedom system from Switch-on-Solutions to any IFA - from one-person to medium-sized.
After being an IFA for 16 years running my own business I came across 'Switch On Solutions'. Up until then I had not come across a system that I felt suited me as a sole trader. I did not want to spend an excessive amount on a complicated system which had high set up and maintenance fees.
This system appealed to me since it was set up by an existing IFA working with his brother, who was an IT Specialist. I decided to go for the system and have been very pleased with it over the last year.
I would encourage IFAs who have delayed investing in this sort of technology to take a closer look at what is being offered as it is very easy to use once it has been set up. I have found the ongoing support also to be good.
After just a few months with Freedom, I can now instantly access all client files and data and my old Word and Excel files, thus producing fingertip valuations for my clients.
This has improved both the service I can offer to them and cut down on the donkey work. It also allows me to keep track of funds under management and thus the underlying value of my business.
Furthermore, the Switch On Solutions customer support has been nothing short of excellent!
When I launched West Riding in 2004 I knew from the outset that I would need a proper database / client management system. Like most IFAs registering a new firm I was targeted by the sales departments of all the large and long-established purveyors of such systems.
Most were web based. All did a lot of things I didn’t want whilst not doing some key things I did want. Also they pretty much all wanted an extra user licence for every machine, which would be inconvenient for us. Though there are only 2 advisers in the firm I need the software loaded on 5 machines because we use different workstations for different tasks due to the layout of the office. I wanted to pay a one-off fee and have done with it. I was uncomfortable with a monthly licensing arrangement because, it seemed to me, the provider could have me over a barrel if they decided to jack up their monthly charges. They all say that you can migrate your data to another system, but being the suspicious soul I am, well, I’m suspicious of such claims.
So I gave up on the off-the-shelf systems and spent 3 years on and off blueprinting what I wanted, intending to find a whizz kid who could write the software to my functional specification. I’d just finished my blueprint when I discovered in a press article that another IFA in Kent had been through all the same thought processes and had arrived at all the same conclusions as me. The only difference was that he had a brother who was a whizz kid who had already written the software.
Thus I was introduced to Freedom, and it was love at first sight. I went for the gold version and it did pretty much everything I wanted, plus a few things I’d not thought of. Best of all we were able to add to, and modify certain aspects of it ourselves and Simon (the said whizz kid) Andrews was very responsive when we asked him to make other tweaks we needed. And he still is. In fact, the support is one of the best aspects of Freedom; it’s on a personal level that you just don’t get with the big firms.
I am completely confident in Freedom as a major component of our business. I regard it as ideal for a firm of our size, plus firms that are a good bit bigger, and would recommend it to anyone in our position.
At the end of the day, I put my money where my mouth is. Anything that can persuade this Yorkshireman to part with £2500 must be good. Any prospective purchaser is welcome to phone me for a chat. Simon Andrews deserves every bit of the success he gets.
Neil Liversidge, Managing Director