High-net-worth (HNW) clients represent a unique market. It’s one that typically comes with higher service expectations including full transparency into data and workflow, frequent communication, and access to information via a highly secure platform.
These clients also come with exceptionally busy schedules—consumed with work, travel, and business and investment activities. Constraints on time can take attention away from important day-to-day tasks, such as management of bills and accounts reconciliation. This commonly leads to overlooked invoices, inaccurate account records and a litany of other financial tracking issues.
As their trusted advisor, you understand the value of ensuring your HNW clients are well taken care of at all levels—from providing deep financial analysis to relieving them of daily bill management tasks. But how do you know when your clients need you to step in? What are the signs that they require automated bill pay services?
To help you answer these questions, start by looking for any of the following key indicators:
Messy approval chain and approval lags
When manual tasks creep into the bill payment process, it throws a wrench in the whole system. Manually tracking payments via spreadsheets or processing paper checks are a few examples. Manual work leads to a messy and anything-but-automated approval chain as well as workflow bottlenecks.
If you notice longer lags in approval time, it’s highly likely that manual tasks (and bottlenecks) are a constant on the client side. In these cases, clients need to adopt an automated workflow using a solution that supports a unique, streamlined approval structure. This includes the ability to add approvers as needed and customize how invoices are routed for approval—for example, based on amount, location or type. It also includes automatic notifications when a bill requires attention and the ability to approve with a single click or tap.
Slow payouts and strained vendor relationships
When the bill payment process is messy, it affects every interaction along the line—including paying vendors. For clients who have a history of slow payouts, you’ll sometimes also find contentious vendor relationships. After all, once products and services have been delivered, vendors expect to get paid in a timely manner.
For clients who are consistently slow to pay vendors, help them understand that the accounts payable function is a vital part of their business and personal lives, and that if not handled properly, it can wreak havoc on much-relied-on vendor partnerships. Moving to an automated bill payment structure—which removes manual paper check creation and mailing tasks—can solve this issue. Additionally, solutions that support scheduling of payments ensure that invoices are paid before the due date once they are approved.
Time consuming audit and compliance checks
When clients don’t have real-time access to data and documents, it significantly limits their ability to conduct fast and efficient audit checks and accurately track key information. The inability to access and identify needed data quickly increases the risk of overlooking potentially major issues. The fact is, you don’t know what you don’t know. When transparency and accessibility into data is limited, there is often more the client “doesn’t know”—and this can lead to bigger issues down the line.
Clients that express frustration in this area are ideal candidates for automated bill pay services. Top-tier bill pay solutions provide full transparency into the numbers and supporting documents within a single system. This enables HNW clients to conduct quick and accurate audit check-ins and track all required data and docs to support audit needs.
Uptick in data errors
Mistakes are far more likely to occur when work is handled manually. Keying in data significantly increases the risk of human error and, subsequently, causes more issues down the line (i.e., account reconciliation). If you start detecting an uptick in errors when reviewing incoming client A/R and A/P data, it’s a good indicator that manual processes are in play and that those clients would benefit from an automated bill pay model.
Today’s leading bill pay systems offer automation from the moment an invoice is received. With Bill.com, powerful features like Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) all but eliminate data entry by automatically capturing required invoice data as soon as invoices hit the inbox. The system starts the bill creation process by pulling in required invoice data such as vendor name, invoice number, invoice date, due date and amount. And to ensure accuracy, clients have the opportunity to review any invoice before submitting it. Top-tier solutions also automatically detect duplicate and incorrect invoices, alert those in the review chain, and reconcile invoices with a client’s accounting system and bank accounts.
Limitations on international payments
High-net-worth individuals conduct business around the globe, requiring the ability to manage payments both domestically and internationally. Systems that provide multiple payment options within a single platform can best support HNW clients—offering an all-in-one approach to paying and tracking domestic and international transactions.
Leading bill pay platforms also provide access to current exchange rates and the ability to automatically sync US and local currency bills with the client’s accounting system. This can save HNW clients an immense amount of time and eliminate double data entry work from the process.
Limited access when on the go
Travel is often a big part of high-net-worth clients’ lives. Being on the road (or in the air) requires clients to work on the go and from multiple devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet), which can limit their ability to approve and track payments in a timely, efficient manner.
Clients who travel often find it difficult to keep up with bill management. For those who do, help them understand the value of efficiently processing invoices and payments via an automated, mobile-friendly platform. Doing so ensures real-time access to data at any time and from anywhere to easily perform work—like approving payments with a few simple clicks.
You know your clients better than anyone. With a close working relationship and consistent monitoring, you can easily identify high-net-worth clients in need of automated bill payment services. Whether your clients are showing just a few or all of the signs listed above, it’s worth having a conversation and making them aware of the value associated with an automated bill pay model.
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Originally published on the Bill.com blog