Many Financial Advisors and Planners currently need to determine what solutions they can implement to obtain their client’s signatures digitally, especially for clients who has limited technological experience.
Over the coming weeks, I will share my view on some of the tools available in the market. The first is an extremely popular choice, namely Adobe Sign or Adobe EcoSign. Adobe Sign allows you to send documents via email to your clients for their signature.

Here are the things I like about the Adobe Sign platform:

  • 1- You can customise the subject line and body of your email to your client.
  • 2- You can CC other users such as your assistant or the client’s spouse (if required)
  • 3- You can set the fields in the document that you need your client to complete and your client will be guided by the reminder stickers on the left of the screen.
  • 4- After the client has signed the document, it is stored to your adobe account and your client’s if they have one. Further to that the signed document is emailed to your client and they can download it directly after they have signed it. Everyone you CC’ed in the email will also get a copy of the same signed document.

What I do not like:

  1. There is no way to password protect the document so that it remains secure via email. Anyone with the link can open the document on your client’s behalf.
  2. There is no way to customise your email with your logo

The cost:
Adobe Sign allows you to send 2 documents free in a 30-day period.
• With a 12-month commitment price per user $ 11.49 (Approx R 206.82 p.m.)
• Month to month use, Price per user $ 17.24 (Approx R 310.32 p.m.)
For more on Pricing you can click here.

Alternative Adobe Subscriptions:
You can also subscribe Adobe Acrobat Pro plans that allows you to create forms and more with your PDF Documents, Turn scanned documents into editable, searchable PDFs and more. Adobe does offer a free 3- day trail for this option.
The subscription for a 12-month commitment is $ 17.24 per user per month (Approx R 310.32 p.m.)
For more on Pricing you can click here.

What does your client need?
Your client only needs an email address and an active internet connection.
It works on Laptops, Mobiles and Tablets.

User friendliness – Document sender 4.0/5
User friendliness – Document Receiver 4.8/5
Secure Platform 4.0/5
Customisation 3.0/5
Pricing Structure and flexibility 4.5/5
Overall Score 4.5/5

You can watch the how to video here.

As times become tough, people tend to be more desperate than usual. This leaves the door for scamsters wide open.

As people become more desperate, they are more likely to believe scam related messages. In the past, scam operators use to be easily identifiable by their poor choice of language. As the translation software becomes better, this is no longer the first way to identify a scam. Here are six important messages, in simple language, you should share with your clients.

  • Ask for help

When people are presented with opportunities, they tend to act first and then talk to their network of professionals. In our accounting firm, we continuously remind our clients that they should check with us fist if they receive any communication that is related to their taxes. We have saved so many of our clients by preventing their actions. SARS also has a link where people can check the latest scams. The page can be found here.

  • Protect your personal information

Your personal information is worth more than the small deposit/ fees that are often requested. With enough personal information they can impersonate you at financial institutions to perform transactions on your behalf. There is a huge black market for personal information that can be abused in various other ways.

  • Check the email address

No officially authority will use a Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or free mailbox email address. Further to this, it is easy to display one name and the reply to address is different. If you click on the reply to button, and the address is different than the one you have received the mail, that is another waring signal. If no email address is displayed, double click on the email address to see what the actual email address is.

  • Do not open attachments

Sometimes email attachments contains small lines of codes that then enables hackers to access your computer. In some instances, they can transmit your information over an internet connection, activate your webcam and or computer’s microphone and in some instances, they can block access to your files and request a ransom to release your information.

  • Do not click on suspicious links.

Links that have a security certificate typically starts with https://. The s generally indicates a secure site. However, this is not the only safeguard. You should still consider the links and the contents of the emails before you click on them. You can set your browser settings not to allow automatic downloads, meaning that you will need to give explicit permission before any file can be downloaded. This will allow you an additional protection but is not a sure safeguard. You should thus exercise extreme caution before you click on any link.

  • Do not believe messages at face value

My favourite line on some of these scam mails is either the line that says this is not a scam, this is 100% guaranteed etc., or the one where they threaten you with legal action if you do not respond. Believing these messages at face value, especially if any of the above points has created some alerts for you, could cost your dearly.

Having the knowledge of possible risk factors and scams, will allow your clients to exercise caution and allow your clients to safeguard them in these difficult and desperate times. The golden rule of if it seems to be too good to be true, it is too good to be true.

Whilst South Africa celebrates freedom day today, I have been thinking what Freedom really means to me. We are a few days away from a staged release of our National Lockdown, many making ironic jokes about us being in Lockdown on Freedom day.

As a young financial planning professional, freedom to me means that I have the ability to run a business and work for an income without any restrictions. I am proud to say I am South African, a country that has been through so much. The reality is that we all have some scars from South Africa. Mine is a continuous one that is u able to heal.

As a professional, I have to continuously review my options and determine where I see myself and what I need to make it possible.

Every year when I review my strategies, I realize that I have so much to offer, so much to give, but the ones needing the help does not realize they need it, and those that realize that they do, seems to be intimidated by me.

I have a diverse range of skills, because I am a firm believer that I can achieve what ever I want to. I have a unique talent for learning and my #GallupStrenghfinder confirms this.

With so much knowledge that I am eager to share, is often questioned because I am a white young female, at least that is how I perceive it to be.

One factor that I constantly have to ask myself is whether or not, I want to leave my home, the place where my dreams were shaped and my foundation was laid, in order to ensure a better future for myself.

This year I again came to the conclusion that I am staying, there is simply no place like home, and this year I am choosing Freedom day to place the stake in the ground.

Freedom does not mean we can do as we please, neither does it mean that we should all be treated equal, because we are not born equal.

I recently am watched a series named “House of Cards”, and Kevin Spacey, as the President of the USA, said in a speach, “if you want a job, you will have a job.”

This got me thinking, what does freedom really mean?

I have revised my sentiment to say Freedom means that if you are willing to, and you have the right intentions, you should have the opportunity to make a difference using your skills, knowledge and talents. It should not be about your age, race, background, or gender.

Every business that has been successful has identified a shortcoming and fulfilled the need. That to me is simply a different definition of making a difference.

If you do the right things, for the real right reasons, you are free, no matter what. You just need to choose to be the one that puts your hand up every time, even when you are ignored. Your agility is what will set you apart in the end.

May you be blessed this freedom day, there are many changes awaiting us in the near future, you just need to want the opportunity enough to be able to see it.

The FSCA has granted certain extensions for FSP due to the outbreak of COVID19

The extensions granted includes the submission of Statutory Returns and Fit and Proper Requirements.

Under the Fit and Proper extensions, Regulatory Examinations, Class of Business Training, Product specific training, qualifications and CPD all received extensions.

The most important to note under the CPD Extensions are:

The 2019/20 CPD Cycle:

Due to the cancellation of many CPD activities in March and April, FSPs, key individuals
and representatives are granted an additional 3 months (until 31 August 2020) to meet the CPD requirements for this cycle.

The 2020/21 CPD Cycle:

The CPD requirements for this cycle will start on 1 September 2020 and ends on 31 May 2021. The CPD hours for this cycle will be calculated on a pro-rata basis, i.e. calculated for 9 months instead of 12 months, and will be reduced pro-rata with 3 months.

This means that for the 2020/2021 cycle that runs from 1 September 2020 – 31 May 2021 you will only need 13,5 CPD Points if you need to get 18, 9 CPD points if you need 12 and 4,5 CPD if you need 6.

The full document can be found here.

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When you heard the possibility of a lockdown in South Africa, be honest, there was some part of you that started to panic initially. That is a normal human response to the unknown. As humans, being he superior specie we all want control of something, because our personalities differ. The degree, however, is different.  

Here are 6 things tips to deal with your clients in these unprecedented times:

Don’t tell them not to panic

When you are upset, the last thing you want to hear from someone is calm Down, so why would we say this to someone who is panicking?  Instead of telling them not to panic, rather say it’s okay to panic, followed by your response you would have if you told them not to panic. This way, you give them a sense that you are in control and the reaction they have is normal. People like to know that their reaction to events is normal.

Give them the Facts

We are in a problematic situation, and no one knows how the future will pan out. We do not know what is coming and we do not know if lockdown will work the way the government envisages it to work. For now, you need to focus on what is important, keeping yourself and your family save. Trust that the plans we have put in place will materialise as they should. It is also important to remember that you are not alone, and fund managers are all considering their options and strategies. Where you do not know the facts, be sure that you leave them with the message that should anything change they will hear from you.

Give them comfort.

If you do life insurance or medical aids, assure them that the cover they have in place will cover them and their families. This a time to remind them why the solutions you have put in place remains so critical for this journey.

Be available; be visible

Remember that you should not use this as an excuse not to be available. If you cannot be available during their most trying times, they are ever likely to experience, you will break the trust with your clients that you have built on for so long.

If you are not available for whatever reason, ensure that you have provided them with alternatives and sufficient information.  You do not have to build up a library of information overnight, share information from your other business partners. I do however want to caution, that you need to ensure that you are comfortable with the information contained in whatever you share.

Take care of YOU

During a lockdown, you need to ensure that you take care of you. Your mental and social wellbeing is more important than you might realise at this time. One way of ensuring your mental wellbeing is taken care of is to plan. Plan your days, create your accountability measures and ensure that you touch base with others frequently.

Focus on the remainder of the year.

Whilst we do not know how long this is going to last, we do know that things are going to be different for the remainder of the year and the following years, we do need to plan and review our strategies. Parts of your strategies might still be implementable whilst other parts will need a complete refocus. Use this time, to think about how you are going to recover from this.

Barbara Mundell Consult (PTY)LTD provides professional consulting services to financial planning practices. Contact us should you need assistance in planning and managing your practice. We are a recognised FPI CPD Provider, providing customised CPD programmes. We will remain fully operational during the national shut down.

In my previous article, I asked this question. Many of you responded saying you await the next edition so here it is. 

Many clients have goals and dreams they aspire to, but they don’t always know how to articulate the real dream as they are often not sure as to the reason for this. 

You will note that I use the term many. You will come across the odd client who does not have any goals, dreams or aspiration. They want to have a job, save for retirement and then retire. As Financial Planners though, we are often not that person, and we failed to understand why, and how people can be like that, or we ask ourselves, what is the client hiding? The answer is nothing. 

That is who your client is and he is happy for who he is. 

Now let’s talk about the client’s who have goals and dreams but cannot articulate them. 

The reason your client does not engage with you does not maintain the relationship with you is not because you showed inferior knowledge, its because your Financial Plan lacked one thing… The client’s buy-in. 

The client will only buy into their financial plan you drafted if you have made it their plan. 

As we all know, the client does not really want to talk about estate planning and what happens if I die, that is a grownup thing that they need to do, in most cases, nothing more and nothing less. But what if you could change that perception? What if you could entrench a message into the client’s mind that every time he sees the debit order coming off his account he remembers the reason why and he remembers you. He remembers you because you are the reason he remembers why? 

So how do you get to the point where you have a detailed of the client’s understanding?

You have to play a little game with them. To illustrate the game, I am going to use a practical example. 

The client’s scenario

Your client is a middle-class citizen that works hard for his money but is overwhelmed by debt every month. At the end of the month, he is depressed. 

He meets with you and you both design a financial plan that will help the client from this situation. He now recovers and has some disposable income. Now you start with the rest of his financial planning, amongst others his estate planning. 

You have now put solutions in place to ensure that his debt has been paid off and his spouse and children will be able to maintain their standard of living. You now have an idea of what his need/ goal / wish is, but you need to refine this. 

It’s important to remember that your client has not even defined this for themselves and there is no such thing as a generic goal. The reason for this is that we all have different relationships. Even similar relationships are different. For instance, a mother-child relationship is a common one, but the relationship between each mother and child is different. 

Now you start asking your client, What would it mean if you passed away and your wife has all the debt paid off. He might reply she will have an easier life, and you can either ask more questions to get to answers such as she will not have to struggle like… or you can reply SO What? 

You do this repeatedly until you cannot say SO What anymore. You have now discovered the real underlying reason your client has for agreeing to implement his financial plan. 

I want to make it very clear that you need to find your own way to ask your client’s the SO What? question. With some clients, you can put the  SO What? question to them just like that and others will be offended. Your relationship with your client will determine how you will phrase your  SO What? question to them. 

You now have a closer bond with that client, make sure that he knows that you have heard his WHY and that his WHY is important to you. 

The next question you should ask yourself is how have you incorporated your client’s WHY into his financial plan. 

, Money is not about money

I have came to realise that the conversations we have about money are not about money.

So often we get stuck in economic pressures, feeling indebted and overwhelmed when we talk about money and then you realise… It is not about money, it’s not even about our behaviour or consumerism, but it’s just about us.

What do we want people to see when they look at us, how people react to us, the adventures we want to embark on, the protection we want for our families, the need to survive, be safe, to be happy, to be recognized and to be someone?

Being someone has a different definition for different people. Success means something different, having something or not having it also has a different definition for different people.

Yet in the end, we will need money to achieve what we set out.
It is thus by the HOW MUCH I WANT IT(being physical things, being experiences, being a legacy), that influences our relationship with money and our relationship with the people that we have.

We all have different ways to approach our money, our specific situations, and often for the average joe public, it’s just simply too much so they play ostrich because they do not know who to TRUST!

AH HA and there we have it. We are not afraid to face our money issues, we are scared that we can’t trust anyone, let alone ourselves. We are afraid that we will feel like failures if we don’t achieve it so we simply just don’t attempt it.

You see, money is not about money but is it about what you want to have, where you want to go and where we can have a fun time, or the legacy you want to leave this earth.
Our inability to seek professional help so that we can change the behaviour is hampered by Trust.

The trust does not simply mean that you are afraid that someone will steal from you, or nor act in your best interest. The lack of trust means that you are afraid that they are going to leave you, or that you will not be able to achieve your goals and be left alone, and simply feel miserable. The fact that you don’t want to feel like a failure so you simply never start.

So money is about money, but not about the money itself but rather the abilities money gives us.

If you are in the Financial Planning Profession, reach out to find out more about how Barbara Mundell Consult(PTY) LTD help you change the experience and build trust.

Barbara Mundell,CFP® BAP(SA)™
Barbara Mundell Consult(PTY)LTD

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