The lost funds industry

Finance and accounting

I get calls from people in multiple industries however some of the most common calls I am getting at the moment are people from the lost funds industry. They are calling me via one of my skip tracing agencies asking for assistance in locating people that have lost funds.

This isn't really new, I remember back in 2012 I started to get a flood of calls from people in the lost funds industry asking for assistance. However those calls slowly decreased until now.  For some reason there has been a new batch of people entering the industry and are reaching out to me for assistance because they can't find their customers.

Think about it! The lost funds industry is based on having the ability to not only file a claim for your clients, you have to find them first. That is why the funds have been left unclaimed, the original account holder couldn't contact the person!

So a large part of your role in the lost funds industry is going to be???? Locating people!

Regardless of how you got in the industry or how much you paid for training on the industry it is time to make it work for you.

The lost funds industry is going to be around for a long time, there is well over a billion dollars in lost funds and that grows each year. So how can you get started in the industry, stay in the industry and be successful?

 

1. You don't have to pay "agent fees" to the person that trained you to operate in the industry. So if the person that trained you said you have to pay X amount every year to work as an agent, ask them what law states that. What license do they get and who enforces it? I have had a number of people who paid for training and setup fees to get started tell me the person that offered the course is telling them they have to pay agent licensing fees to them each year. Not true!

2. Organise your portfolio of accounts.

Do not use pen and paper! seriously that is not a very smart idea at all.

There are lists of people who have unclaimed money, these lists are your portfolio. Here are some basics on portfolio management.

Rule 1: Apply status codes. A status code identifies the current status of an account. So you would setup status codes like:

·         New account

·         Letter sent

·         Forms returned

·         Claim submitted

·         Claim failed

·         Pending client action

·         Claim completed

So there are some basic status codes, you will need to work out what status codes will suit your workflow however I am sure you can see what I mean.

With status codes you can see what is happening with your portfolio. At any stage you can see how many accounts are in the New status, how many are pending client action and most importantly what date they were last actioned.

3. Workflow

Apply rules to your status codes and build them into your workflow. For example an account in a New status should be worked every 7 days. An account in a Pending Client action should be worked every 14 days. If an account is not worked within the required time an alert should be sent to you to follow up the account.

A good workflow will ensure you are working each account to the same standard. You workflow is more than just status codes, it is also what actions you take to for each step of the claims process. Don't be afraid to change this as time goes on. The more files you work the more efficient you will work. So change your workflow as you learn more about the industry and the processes.

4. Review your work

Reviewing your successes and failures is something a lot of people say you should do however know one really tells you how. Look at your work. If you have setup status codes and a good workflow you have something to review.

Look at the number of accounts that have been converted to successful claims and look at the accounts that have failed to convert.

Setup result codes! with a result code you can see why an account was changed to a claim failed status.

Look for trends. Are there similarities between accounts that resulted in a successful claim? Does client age, location, occupation make a difference. What about the claim amount? Are there some trends appearing?

While most people will continue to work accounts with a high dollar amount you will be able to see where the real success is.

If you can see that 90% of claims that are successful are from clients who are 50 years old and 80% of claims that fail are from clients who are between 21 and 30. What files will you work? While your competitors are busy chasing only the high dollar accounts you have the ability to recover much more than them and faster. Instead of having a 5% hit rate you could end up with a 80% hit rate.

5. Don't be afraid to change!

A lot of people fall into a rut, they stick with what they have been taught and keep the blinkers on so they can make enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month. Don't! If you are struggling to pay the bills at the end of the month but work very hard, you are doing something wrong. It is time to change.

Keep track of that the industry is doing. There could be regulation chances coming up in the next couple of months. If you don't know about them it could cause you a world of pain to find out the hard way. If you know about regulation changes in advance you will have time to alter your processes to make the changes work for you.

If you are working long hours and still having trouble paying the bills you really need to speak with someone who can help you. You are doing something wrong and in most cases an outsider perspective can really help. But before you do ask for help, go to back to step 4, review your work. Look for what is taking up so much of your time and try to refine that process.

  

And here is the most important part, learn how to locate people!

A lot of people that call me asking if I can locate their customer for them don't expect the reply I give them. No!

I say no because I know it isn't viable for them to pay for skip tracing services. Think about it. A skip tracer will charge around $350 per locate. So you have to pay that out of your own pocket before you even know if that client will go through with the claim.

So I say no! I tell them to take the skip tracing course and learn how to do it themselves. I have a skip tracing course a lot of skip tracings and private investigators have done in Australia. And to those who are struggling in the lost funds industry I say do it and make yourself more money.

As a lost funds agent you are basically a skip tracer. So why not learn how to do it properly and set yourself up to have an alternative source of income.

Add skip tracing services to your list and you have two income streams that are both related. You are locating people who have lost funds or you are locating people for clients. Either way your job is to locate people.

So there are some tips on the industry. The most important thing I can stress to you is to start working your accounts as a portfolio. Track, monitor and analyze what is going on with your portfolio and stop blindly working files with a large balance. That isn't where all the money is. 


Brad Lyons

Brad Lyons

Consultant at SMS Fusion

I remember when I first took to leap from full-time employment to self employment. It is always a challenging and rewarding experience. My first client challenged me to create new technology for an industry I had little experience in. As a result I found myself interviewing some very passionate people in the industry who were very pleased that someone was taking an interesting in finding solutions to streamline their industry. I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to assist some v

SMS Fusion

SMS Fusion

Information and communication technology


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Lina Barfoot

Lina Barfoot , Editor at SavvySME

Thanks for this article Brad, very informative!