The survey results are in and a majority of family offices (62%) reported providing bill payment services for their clients. This telling statistic is among those found in the “Bill Pay Market Research” survey conducted by Datafaction in April of 2020. This national survey was designed to gain a better understanding of how advisors are offering bill pay services, the challenges they face and the solutions they utilize.
These results confirm what Datafaction has known for a while now. We have seen a steady increase in the number of multi-family offices starting to offer bill pay as a regular part of their service offering and that many single family offices are looking to modernize this important function by upgrading from retail desktop solutions. Many clients have come to expect this service from their advisors.
Below are other key takeaways from the survey that advisors should consider if they are thinking about adding bill pay, or if they are looking for ways to become more efficient.
Family wealth firms that offered bill payment services reported three clear benefits to their operations:
- Additional stickiness in client relationships – 62%
- Ability to provide better insights and planning – 41%
- Additional revenue – 31%
These are in addition to the ease of doing tax preparation from having provided bookkeeping services all year long. Beyond the additional revenue firms may receive, the ability to better serve clients and develop stickier relationships are the key drivers for firms wanting to provide this service to their clients that more than outweigh the additional risk. Firms that offer bill pay services become much more central to their client’s day to day financial health, which lowers the risk of a client leaving. In fact, most firms see offering bill pay services as a value add for their clients, while 24% reported that they charge separately for it.
Checks Continue to be Popular
The survey also revealed that two thirds (67%) of firms still use checks to pay bills on behalf of their clients. This ranged from 13% of firms paying all bills by check to 29% paying all electronically. As this survey was conducted in April, it will be interesting to see if and how dramatically this shifts towards more electronic methods of payment in light of the circumstances resulting from the pandemic.
When we asked firms what accounting system they used for bill pay, 40% named QuickBooks. 50% of firms who use QuickBooks spend between 50-100+ hours a month paying bills for clients. In that time, most firms reported spending more than half of it on manual processes related to bill pay (scanning, logging into different bank accounts, re-keying information into multiple systems, etc.).
In our survey, the top pain points reported from firms using QuickBooks for bill pay were:
- Too manual - 74%
- Lack proper controls – 62%
- Using systems not designed for my business – 45%
For firms using AgilLink, Datafaction’s cloud based bill pay and accounting system, 31% reported spending between 1- 25 hours a month paying bills for clients. This isn’t a surprise since AgilLink is designed specifically for firms that provide bill pay and accounting services to ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) clients.
Benefits of AgilLink include:
· Easily manage all client entities in one platform
· Reduce complexity and cost with integrated accounting and banking
· Scan all their bills at once into an integrated document management system
· Improve staff productivity by finding answers to client and vendor bill pay questions fast and accurate
For more information or to see AgilLink in action click here.
You may also find helpful: