Independent financial advisors, IFS, standardise on Kodak's ScanMate i1120 scanners to manage client files

(PresseBox) ( Stuttgart, )
- Financial Services Authority requires client paperwork to be stored indefinitely
- Moving away from paper storage to scanning documents removes huge potential commercial risk to IFS if files were lost, stolen or damaged
- 100 ScanMate i1120 scanners sold by BMI Solutions in company-wide roll out

Eastman Kodak Company today announced that Independent Financial Services Limited (IFS), a nationwide firm of independent financial advisors, has purchased 100 ScanMate i1120 duplex scanners for its branches throughout the country as it deploys company-wide electronic document management software to deal with client files and shift away from paper storage. The scanners were sold by online reseller, BMI Solutions, in a deal worth almost £30,000.

With its head office in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, IFS was founded in 1994 and has grown to employ 140 staff at 64 UK locations. Privately owned, with turnover in excess of £5 million, IFS focuses on providing independent financial advice to 58,000 personal clients and members of substantial affinity groups, the biggest being the Federation of Small Businesses, the largest organisation in the UK representing the interests of small to medium sized businesses with 215,000 members. Across its client base, 60% of IFS' work is investment orientated, with 40% pension and mortgage related.

Barry Wycherley, IFS' chairman, says, "As a FSA[1] regulated business, we're ultimately responsible for the advice given to clients and this is documented in paperwork which has historically all been paper-based. While it has never happened, this leaves the business vulnerable to claims if files were damaged, lost or stolen and we couldn't prove what advice was given. Equally, while the FSA has a series of principals about file storage, these are open to interpretation, and we wanted to move from a position of hopeful control to something more concrete."

The importance of this to IFS is considerable as the number of clients and branches have expanded considerably presenting the company with a growing and unnecessary level of commercial risk.

After reviewing various options, IFS purchased 100 Kodak ScanMate i1120 scanners from BMI Solutions to complement two higher end devices previously bought. In a phased roll out, this means that a ScanMate unit will be installed on practically every staff desk.

The Kodak scanners come with a comprehensive software bundle including NUANCE ScanSoft PaperPort 11 software which allows IFS staff at each office to scan all historic paperwork - a huge task equating to thousands of files each containing hundreds of pieces of paper - and current client documentation.

The whole process of moving away from paper to a computer-based approach to file management has allowed IFS to improve organisational efficiency and remove paper cluttering its offices. Using all its scanner equipment, staff have already disposed of 30,000 historic files after they have been scanned, a workload equating to 18,000 scans per day over a 3 month period.

Today, advisors scan paperwork into client specific folders and this documentation is captured automatically on a weekly basis using a bespoke application called IFS DB Manager which in turn populates a Microsoft Office Access database solution based at the Stonehouse head office.

Wycherley says, "IFAs produce tons of documents from the first 'fact finding' stage where clients' personal financial circumstances are assessed and recorded, to applications, ongoing evaluations and then management of commission statements. The business was swamped with paper and deploying scanners and, in future a group-wide electronic document management system, will allow us to streamline this."

Kodak's ScanMate i1120 scanners allow one or two sided scanning in black and white, greyscale and colour and are designed to handle 20 pages per minute, with image resolution up to 600 dots per inch (dpi). Featuring a 50 page feeder, along with Kodak's built in 'Smart Touch' capability, IFS staff can easily and quickly create PDF, TIFF, JPEG and searchable PDFs at a touch of a button, with nine pre-set and customisable shortcuts available to make scanning really simple.

The ScanMate i1120 scanners come with Kodak's Perfect Page image-processing technology which has features to de-skew and crop images, along with dynamic iThresholding to automatically adjust the brightness and contrast of documents to ensure high-quality scanned images. This immediately improves staff productivity as images don't have to be rescanned or settings altered on a per document basis.

IFS purchased the ScanMate i1120 scanners based on BMI Solutions' recommendation. Jason Orchard, BMI Solutions' director, says, "Kodak's reliability is second to none and the throughput of the i1120 scanners is more than enough to cope with IFS' workload. They're duplex, have a small footprint and come with the most comprehensive warranty in the industry - a unique three year next business day exchange warranty for free."

While IFS is very happy with the PaperPort software, it is in the process of looking at other document management systems to improve collaboration, as well as working to centralise some of its IT resources to improve security and day-to-day management. A thin-client computing solution, based on Microsoft Terminal Services, is to be installed by the end of the year.

Wycherley concludes, "Over and above the obvious benefits, the real value for us of scanning and electronic document management is the protection it provides in terms of proving what advice was given to clients if ever there were a query. It is this safeguard which makes the investment in the hardware and software totally worthwhile."

David Whitton, Kodak's document imaging's UK sales manager, said, "The new ScanMate i1120s are proving a real hit with small to medium sized business who want a comprehensive package to realise the benefits of electronic document storage. While they may be our entry level product, they offer high performance and have all the features Kodak has become well known for such as Perfect Page."

[1] Financial Services Authority
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