At Berry & Oak we are always looking at ways to continually improve the way we work so we can provide an even better service to our clients.
The challenges of the last few months have forced us to bring forward some of our longer term planning and implement some rapid changes. We have been working hard behind the scenes to introduce some new technology to our business, that we think will enhance the service and support we can provide to our clients.
Here is an overview of some of the things that we have introduced
We were already experimenting with using Zoom, before the explosion in its popularity as more people became aware of it under the lockdown. It’s a great tool for keeping connected with family, friends and work colleagues and many have used it for catching up and quizzes…
We are now using it successfully for client meetings, so we can chat with you virtually, almost as if you were in the room with u. We are also able to share our screen with you, so you can see your financial plan, investment performance figures and anything else that we would normally do face-to-face.
Zoom has received some bad press over its perceived security weaknesses, but we have always ensured we used their secure settings, including a ‘waiting room’ (so we can control who enters the room), locking the meeting once all attendees are in, and we use a password system so we know the meeting and our discussions are secure.
Please follow the link for our Zoom user Guide. (https://berryandoak.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/How-to-use-Zoom.pdf)
Personal Finance Portal
Most of our clients are now registered and using our Personal Finance Portal (PFP). We get a lot of feedback about how useful it is to easily see the values of their investments and pensions in one place, as well as the ability to save important documents and share them with us if required, and also the secure messaging service, which allows safe and secure messaging and the ability to attach documents, just as you would with a normal email, but in a much safer environment.
Coming soon – We will shortly be launching an open banking enhancement which will safely and securely allow you to show your bank account information into the PFP, in a much easier and streamlined way, then using Yodlee, which was the previous method. It is in final testing and we will be letting you know more about this when it is ready to use.
DocuSign is an Electronic signature service for documents/agreements that need to be signed by our clients. Previously we had to send items to be signed by you in the post which could often cause delays, especially over the last few months. Using DocuSign allows us to send it electronically to you via our Personal Finance Portal. Once we’ve sent the document you will get a notification that you need to review and sign it and its then returned back to us. It only takes a few moments and is very simple to use. Over the last weeks on numerous occasions we’ve been able to send a document to client and have it back in the office and signed on the same day.
Bringing product providers into the 20th century
There is no point Berry & Oak making all these swift, robust electronic changes, if all the product providers still insist on paper and post and it’s been a continual frustration of us all that providers seem to be in the dark ages. As a profession we have been lobbying them hard and it’s pleasing to see a number of them are now slowly adopting the ability to send forms via secure email, or uploaded to their own portals, rather than the need for paper and wet signatures, in the post. There is still much more work to be done in this area and hopefully we will have further good news as more product providers join the revolution of the digital age.
To ensure we continue to offer you the best possible online security, we have introduced two-factor authentication (2FA) on the Berry & Oak Personal Finance Portal, which adds an additional layer of security when logging in. Having 2FA set up means that your data security and online identity is greatly improved.
2FA is a security feature that requires you to login across two stages. Your first stage will be to log in with something you know, this will be your usual password. The second stage will be with something you have, for example your mobile phone or an application on your pc.
It will help you keep your personal data safe by reducing the chance of a potential hacker guessing your password and gaining access to your account.
As a business we have adopted the “Authy” app as our authenticator of choice, as it is easy-to-use and has the ability to add multiple accounts for different sites you may use it for, such as Amazon and banking…
The Berry & Oak team have started using LastPass. LastPass is a secure password manager that stores all our usernames and passwords in one safe place, called a Vault.
This saves time as we can access provider websites at the touch of a button, but also improves the security of our log ins using its encryption to secure our data, but it doesn’t actually store the information itself – it’s a zero-knowledge provider, meaning that only us have access to our master passwords.
This has allowed us to get rid of spreadsheets with usernames and passwords on and disable Google Chrome (or any other search engine) for remembering username and passwords. It’s a more secure way of working
A review pack for our clients to use in their financial planning meeting with us
We have introduced a review pack of information that we think you will find useful to use during your meeting with us and then retain for future reference.
It includes details of the performance of your investments and pensions as well as key discussion points for the meeting.
Initial feedback has been this has been very useful and we will be further enhancing this over the coming weeks and months.
We are still working on a number of other exciting developments and we will look to share these with you as soon as practical.