Information is the fuel of your business

One thing I\'ve learned working in the mortgage industry is that it\'s all about data.

The data you hold with regard to your clients and your business is vital – it should be at the heart of your business and the starting point for any changes you may wish to make.

Consider for a moment your client database and how core it is to what you do. Imagine life without this wealth of information. Imagine losing that data. Imagine all the people living life in peace. Difficult, isn’t it?

The point is that data is the fuel of your business. But can you truthfully say that your data is always safe and always available?

Losing this data or having it stolen will result in a distinctly sticky situation. Ask Nationwide which was recently fined the best part of 1m when a company laptop containing customer information was stolen.

Of course, Nationwide losing this type of data and your average broker’s client files going astray are vastly different things which is why the Financial Services Authority fine was on the large side. But the point is that this information needs to be looked after.

While I imagine most advisers are not taking the entire company database with them to every client meeting, there may be some who inadvertently do so. If you’re one of those people you should review the technology your business has and the hardware you carry around.

Better to take a bit of time and take the minimum with you than put your business at risk by carrying around your firm in your laptop.

Another problem could be back at the office. Computers are a positive in today’s working environment but they are far from infallible. I have never met anyone with a computer that has not had problems and intermediary firms should guard against what I call the HAL 9000 problem.

An easy way to ensure that your data is safe and easily accessible is a simple back-up system. You would be surprised how many firms (and individuals) do not back up their files. This is asking for trouble.

One further way to feel secure that you can access all your data is to make paper copies of everything, although there is clearly a space issue here.

Is your office able to house the filing cabinets needed for such a collection? Perhaps not. And what if your office burns down? It’s a possibility. A way round this problem is to have a databank available off-site, perhaps on another organisation’s server. This means that should the worst come to the worst, you will be able to access data easily.

These simple measures could mean the difference bet-ween you experiencing continuing success and a business meltdown.