Jeff Elias is the director and co-founder of Futurebound, a mortgage broker and financial advisory firm based in Wellington. With a core mission to create “generational change through financial advice”, they help clients with securing mortgages, setting up the right insurance arrangements and managing their investments.
“I got into it because I saw the massive impact you can have on people’s lives through good financial advice... when you look at a client holistically and look at all the different ways you can help them, it is genuinely quite life changing for some people and that is pretty satisfying for us.”
Before Trail, the team at Futurebound mostly used paper-based systems that resulted in lots of extra work. As a busy and growing operation, they needed an easy and fast to use system, which is what brought us together.
In this case study, we take a closer look at Jeff’s experience partnering with Trail and how it has helped his team to process loan applications faster with less effort.
The team at Futurebound have been able to save up to an hour per loan application. As a result, they are now able to spend more time with clients and submit more applications every month.
“You’d save half an hour to an hour per application. Easily half an hour, but more in many situations. Time is precious and time is money, so time is so important to us.”
Prior to Trail, Jeff’s processes and customer forms were paper-based, which resulted in information being double handled on every loan application.
“I was having to email people a 10 page PDF document which they would print off, then they would fill that out, and then I would normally meet them after that and take those pages back off them as well as take their payslips and their often printed out bank statements and any other documents that were required... then I would have to take their paper application form that they had filled out and manually transfer that into the system I was using at that time.”
Because of this constant double handling of information, Jeff and his team were spending too much time on admin, and were quite limited in the number of clients that they could look after at any one time.
Jeff was looking for a solution that could help them to be more effective and grow their client base while spending less time on admin.
“It was entirely a paper based process prior to using Trail. I remember trialing it out while being on my summer holiday in the far north and talking to somebody on the phone while I’m on holiday and saying to them ‘okay i’ll send you this link for you to fill out the information, and the next day it was all there.”
It was at this point that Jeff knew he was onto a winner. With the support of Trail, Futurebound has been able to move their business online and stop using the mountains of paper that were once commonplace around the office.
“I no longer buy plastic files to put clients' paperwork in. I haven’t bought those for 2 years. And all the information is there at your fingertips.”
“At refix time, you can send out the link to your existing clients to update their loans as they are now, and it gives you a very accurate picture of where their loans are... I used to find refixes really frustrating because you don’t know where people’s loans are at right now.”
Because all of the customer information is already in Trail, refixing loans is simple and easy. This is particularly useful for Jeff, as it means that he doesn’t usually need to ask for more information.
“Just being able to send that out to a client and have them fill that in is a really good process and helps me to understand their situation so much faster without having to rely on loan details from the banks or having to rely on a phone call from the client to get that information out of them.”
Rather than jumping from one filing cabinet to the next, searching through different systems and looking everywhere for the right information, Trail brings everything into one central location.
For Jeff, this means faster decision making, better customer support and quicker access to information.
“Each year, I keep getting busier, so a fast system is super important… I haven’t found anything as fast as what Trail is.”
For the admin team at Futurebound, it means more efficiency and less time spent on small tasks.
“I can say to them ‘here’s some loan structures that I’ve done for a client. Go and update them or put them into Trail’. It’s a simple task, but with the previous system I was using, I found that it was a 10 minute job… with Trail, it’s a 2 minute job. It’s something that my PAs can do easily, even if they have only used it for a short period of time.”
It has also reduced the amount of time that Jeff spends training new team members.
“Trail tells them what to upload so I’m not having to coach them so much on that.”
In a growing business where there are more clients available than you can service, every bit of time saved has an impact on the bottom line. By using Trail, Futurebound has been able to remove some of the barriers to expansion and do a better job for clients.
“One of the aha moments was when I did the application one day, and admittedly it was a pretty straightforward application but I think I did it in about 5 minutes... And I thought ‘that’s outrageous’... I have used an alternative CRM as well, and that was still taking me about 45 minutes to fill an application through that.”
For Jeff’s team, Trail has been a game changer. Doing away with paper-based systems is one thing, but as with any CRM system, it needs to fit your business operations to be truly valuable.
Here are some of the key outcomes that Jeff has experienced from working with Trail:
“An important thing for me is that I can use Trail and be on the right side of the new licensing regime. So that’s really important and from what I understand, there’s no issues there. And if there is, Trail will fix it.”
Financial advisors are bound by a strict set of regulations, and making mistakes can be costly. Most client management systems aren’t designed for the needs of New Zealand’s advice industry.
By using a platform that is made specifically for Jeff’s type of business, he was able to feel comfortable knowing that he is meeting all of the licensing requirements.
Trail is designed to make it easy for mortgage brokers to process loan applications, even if you don’t have all of the right information from the outset.
“It allows you to keep moving forward because I’ve used another system where if you don’t have ‘this bit of information’, you can’t do anything else. And it doesn’t let you move forward and you’ve got to ring the client back up to find out something before you can proceed and that’s really frustrating. We need to be able to just keep it rolling and carry on with an application.”
Jeff found it easy and intuitive to use, and adaptable to suit the way his business operates.
“Ease of use has been a big one for me. I’ve generally found it easy to use and that’s saying something when I can use it.”
When clients apply for loans, the biggest hurdle is often providing all of the information to gain approval from banks. While this can be a long and inefficient process, Trail makes it simple and convenient.
As Jeff says, “the clients like it… They seem to find it a comfortable and easy system to use. From conversations that I’ve had with other advisers that use it, I know that most advisors are pretty complimentary.”
You can also add your company’s branding to the user interface so that Trail looks like an extension of your business rather than a third-party app.
“I have a number of clients that comment and say ‘that’s a good system you’ve got going there’. Maybe they think I created it...”
“I just love not having to scan bank statements anymore. It’s probably one of the greatest things, not having to make a pile on the ground of a whole lot of bank statements and putting them in the right order… Not doing that probably saves 15-20 minutes per client.”
There are numerous reasons why people start businesses, but doing monotonous admin work like scanning bank statements is never one of them.
By cutting out these ‘less than exciting’ parts of the job, Jeff has been able to spend more time on the area of the business that he enjoys most - providing quality financial advice.
To perform at your best, you need to be able to rely on the systems that empower your success. When issues need to be resolved or improvements are required, it’s important to know that your software partners will move quickly to avoid downtime or lost business.
“Changes have happened at quite short notice with Trail. Being nimble and being able to make adjustments is really important, and that’s one of Trail’s strengths. I have confidence that if there’s something that needs adjusting or fixing or something that needs changing for the licensing regime, that Trail will do it.
Knowing that he could rely on Trail was an important thing for Jeff. It meant that he could bring on more new clients without worrying about whether his team could manage the extra workload.
Would you like to spend less time managing paperwork and more time signing new clients? If you like the sound of that, Trail could be a good fit for your advice business.
Book a demo of Trail today and try it risk free for 60 days.
“If they tried it out for one or two months, I think more advisors would come across because it’s so much easier than what they are using now”