GWM Financial Planning Ltd has grown in the last 20 years to become one of the world’s leading providers of international lifestyle financial planning. They look after over 10,000 international clients and manage over £800m of client savings from offices in the UK, Brussels, Geneva, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Miami.
As they’re a global finance business, there are numerous regional rules and regulations they must abide to. What’s more, as they hold sensitive customer data, they must ensure it’s as secure as possible to minimise the potential for breaches – especially since the introduction of GDPR.
Further to this, as they expand into new markets, they need to set up new offices, implement new technologies and onboard new staff across multiple locations quickly and efficiently, which is why partnering with a forward-thinking IT specialist is imperative.
In the following case study, we explain how we overcame a set of challenges faced by GWM Financial Planning Ltd. As part of the project, we simplified their IT and telecoms systems, bringing in new technologies and even organised the cables in the server rooms within each office.
Due to their ongoing growth, GWM realised they needed to upgrade their IT and telecoms so it could be controlled and supported under one roof. They needed an IT partner who’d work with them to consistently recommend changes to ensure they remained up to date with the latest technologies and respond to support requests quickly.
As explained by Jonathan Howell, Events and IT Manager at GWM, “We didn’t want anyone wasting time on IT. We wanted a good back-office system that would identify IT related issues and automatically alert the IT department. We wanted all the ingredients on the table to push our infrastructure into the future, allowing us to be proactive rather than just reactive.”
Along with employees spending more time on IT related issues, they’d began struggling with:
- Outdated systems & equipment
- Fragmented IT
- Data security
- Disaster recovery
- Remote access to data and software applications
- Shared and collaborative environments for real-time data
We identified the need to modernise their IT and centralise their data and applications, which required us to move GWM to the cloud, utilising the Azure platform as it’s a well-established product, proven to be resilient and reliable, providing the necessary reassurance they needed.
As well as upgrading their back-office system and telecoms, we mapped out a strategy to add in multifactor authentication for increased security, phone call recording capabilities and ghost listening functionality to improve their ongoing operations. We also provided and set up wireless headsets for staff to increase efficiency.
The ideal solution would ensure all data, documents, desktops and software would be backed up and secure in the cloud. What’s more, it would ensure they had the ability to monitor, support and resolve IT-related issues across multiple locations.
Having reviewed a number of IT companies, GWM decided we were the right IT partner for them since we offered much more than general support – we would work with them to constantly improve their systems, allowing them to benefit from the time and cost savings modern technology solutions provided. In addition to this, we don’t outsource any of the work we undertake, which was a major selling point for them.
We worked incredibly closely with GWM to understand their current processes in order to find an approach that would provide the functionality they needed while simplifying their entire IT infrastructure. It was important to stagger the rollout of new systems in order to increase adoption rates and allow both parties to test them thoroughly.
As Jonathan Howell explains, “For everything to go smoothly, we first moved our IT over to Microbyte, which saved us a tremendous amount of money. One thing we weren’t aware of was that you could turn a mailbox into a shared mailbox, so you don’t have to pay for multiple licences. Our old IT company wasn’t aware of that either. Following this, we explained that we wanted extra security, and they added more spam filters and stronger firewalls. They even set up a platform for us to send spam emails so that highlights which employee clicks on them so we can identify who we need to train.”
Along with redesigning their infrastructure and following GWM tidying up the files where their servers were, we went on-site to group together and label each of the cables to simplify their cabinets and remove any potential fire hazards.
Once the UK office was set up, we were asked to visit their offices in Geneva and Miami to audit and update the infrastructure there, too.
The IT infrastructure is now up to date and includes the highest level of security available, along with 24/7 support from our dedicated team of IT specialists. Jonathan Howell explains, “We’d much rather pay to have the best IT systems in place, along with the support provided by Microbyte than risk a data breach and be fined by the ICO.”
He went on to say, “They’ve simplified our IT. Made it simpler and pushed us forward. I can genuinely say it’s had a direct impact on the business. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in now. We’re in an environment where I can sleep at night – I don’t have to worry about viruses or potential hacks affecting the company.”
“Microbyte do what we need and so much more. I can see what they’re doing in the background. They understand that I want to know all the goings-on and understand the flow of data. They talk me through any issues and how they resolve them, offering their knowledge so I can resolve things internally next time. They’re out of this world. I could tell them we have a new starter in Miami, and they’ll go in remotely and set them up. Even now I can ring them and say I want something doing urgently and they’ll do it. They fit in with how we work and are very flexible – if we need them to go to the office they will. It’s that extra reassurance that someone there if something goes wrong. They’re with us all the way.”