By Sarah Wildblood, Marketing Manager and Proofreader, VoiceNotes Ltd
Lots may have changed in the face of COVID-19 and may indeed have changed irrevocably – that much remains to be seen – but one stalwart problem facing financial, wealth advisers and hedge fund managers is remembering the content of those all-important meetings after the event. Virtual meetings are simply not the same, but we are all having to get to grips with them fast to not lose clients!
Of course, with the advent of digital technology in the form of phones and tablets that have the ability to record meetings, this has become, on the face of it, easier; however, listening through an hour’s recording to locate a certain piece of information is as much of a time drain as having to decipher those now primeval handwritten scrawls later on when you’re tired and suffering from information overload.
The essence of a meeting hasn’t changed. Whether it’s a face-to-face meeting or a virtual meeting, as are customary at the present time, meetings are designed for KYC purposes, to garner information, help advisers hit targets and stay compliant. The expectation that this remains the case is as certain as everything else is currently uncertain. After all, what good is a meeting if one can’t remember the details or what to do next?
So, how are fintech services helping financial professionals cross this off their growing list of concerns at present?
Has technology really helped?
From the days of ‘Take a letter, Miss Jones!’, those of a certain age may remember coming back from a meeting and dictating notes to their secretaries to type up, and a (usually colour-coded) copy was neatly filed away in the cabinet under the client’s name, ready for reference at a later date.
This was in the days before technology made it possible to take your own notes, firstly in the form of recorded files using a Dictaphone and tape, then smartphone voice recorders, to the ultra-modern speech-to-text software that exists today. Not only has this allowed the advisers to take control of their own documenting, it has made it vastly more efficient. Without the advent of speech and dictation technology to capture the most pivotal information, advisers simply would not have the time to do their own meeting notes. I refer to my earlier point: sifting through hours of full-meeting recordings and/or arduously writing up all the pertinent details by hand are not viable options.
Speech-to-text software and apps are still developing. They will not treat every accent the same; they’re likely to miss nuances in tone and pronunciation that are simply inevitable between dialects, and when using ‘on the go’, background noise and interference is likely to weaken their effectiveness. Speaking of which, will they know ‘their’ from ‘there’ and ‘they’re’? ‘Two’ and ‘to’ from ‘too?’ Unlikely. Moreover, in the financial industry, data security is paramount. Without proper due diligence, how can you be sure where all the confidential data you are feeding these apps is going?
Meeting notes aren’t simply just good practice for time saving and data quality purposes; in industries such as the financial industry in particular, they are a regulatory requirement to stay compliant (MiFID II, RDR, SM&CR, etc), even more so today with client and agent contact happening from afar through virtual means. They are also vital for in-house affairs and housekeeping – for instance, if employees have been furloughed, to ensure that when they return, it’s as though they have never been away. Employees also have a duty of care, as always, to their staff, to ensure they are mentally as well as physically well during this time, which means further documenting needs doing.
So, what’s the best fintech solution to capturing meeting notes for the financial sector?
If professionals don’t have time to themselves but must for compliance purposes? An ISO-accredited service that doesn’t use voice to text – not even a spellchecker, as that, too, can be reading your text is key to passing due diligence, but to ensure accuracy of financial acronyms always use a human transcription and proofreading team to ensure accuracy and ‘intelligence’ when transcribing, so the meeting notes received are of the highest quality when it comes to conveying content correctly and also linguistically.