Technology cannot replace the financial adviser, whose work requires a human touch. But it can help them deliver better service. This is the trend to take note of – using tech to reduce admin and paperwork, giving you more time to spend with clients.
But which tech will do this for you? We identified the tools that make it easier to advise and key criteria to consider when selecting tech for a brokerage.
Essential tech items for financial advisers
Technologies and tools, such as the ones we have listed below, can help you to run your business better, and deliver better advice and service.
Financial advisers are in the people business, so CRM systems are vital. Tech expert Francois du Toit says CRM systems should do more than keep records such as names, ID numbers and birthdays: they should also automate some of your processes so that every interaction with your client is recorded. This allows you to run a paperless office, and helps with compliance, as there is a complete audit trail. Your CRM system should save you time, and money, and make processes more efficient.
Practice management system
Supported by best-in-class practice management systems, financial advisers need to be entrepreneurial and agile when they manage their businesses. This includes identifying new sources of income to build long-term sustainable income streams that future-proof their businesses.
Practice management systems show a breakdown of revenue, so advisers know where, when and how they earn income. Some CRM systems, such as Xplan, include practice management tools and software to help you to manage your revenue. Other CRMs offer integration with independent revenue management systems, so check with your CRM provider or IT partner.
You need to keep your business’s books, financial statements and tax matters up to date. If you have staff, you need to pay salaries, deduct and pay PAYE and any other staff benefits, keep employment contracts and track leave. Your accounting system can help you to do this – accurately, quickly and easily. Locally, Sage and Quickbooks offer a range of options.
Tools for advisers
These can be anything from an online FNA and retirement and living annuity calculators, to tools that help with asset allocation in a client’s portfolio. Your financial service providers may include these on their systems and applications, such as Vantage from 1Life, which includes 1Plan.
Social media and communication tools
Many advisers use online tools such as MailChimp to send newsletters to clients, and online scheduling for social media messages such as those available on Facebook. These may not be strictly essential, but can help you to increase your visibility and social media profile, which is beneficial in retaining existing clients and attracting new ones. Your CRM system may have some of these tools available as well. And don’t forget about a good camera if you are hosting webinars or running online meetings.
Checklist to select the most appropriate tech and tools for your business
Be prepared to spend some time choosing your systems and software so you know you have the right system for your business, says Francois. He suggests taking the following steps:
- Have a clear view of your business so you can identify your pain points, what problems you need tech to solve for you, and where you can use tech to make your business more efficient.
- Identify the different systems available, which problems they solve and what industries they are suitable for. Perform due diligence on each system and provider: find out what the system offers, what support is available, and how you can customise the software to meet your needs. You can also ask other advisers or your IT provider for advice and do thorough online research. Be sure to ask for a demo before making a final decision.
- When you have selected a system and provider, partner with them. Francois says these providers have worked with many local advisers, big and small, and have many insights that can help you solve your problems. “Use their expertise, insight and experience.”
Other considerations to take into account when choosing tech tools include:
Price: Tech tools must be affordable, but don’t make price the only consideration or the first consideration. “The right technology is an investment, not a cost,” says Francois.
Software contract terms: Know when and where you pay and how to cancel and/or change the contract terms. Many companies offer ‘pay as you go’ type models where you pay for the services you need as you use them.
Training: A must-have on any new tool for you and your staff. Make sure you are happy with the training offered on installation, and ongoing training for updates and upgrades.
Upgrades: Find out how often new features are added, whether training is provided on these and whether contract or price terms are affected when there are upgrades.
Local: Make sure the system operates in local currency and takes local regulations into account. Many international products are great, but mean little in South Africa. If you opt for an international product, make sure it is localised and offers local support.
Easy to use: Tech can only deliver value when it is used – make sure you and your staff are comfortable with the system, use it regularly and don’t struggle with updates or new features.
Security: Any new technology you choose must keep client records private and confidential and comply with POPIA.
Always remember: You want tools and technology that will help you better service your clients. Keep this in mind when deciding what system to use.
Financial advisers are in the people business. Even the best tech cannot understand your clients as well as you do and, as a result, give them the most suitable advice. But tech can help you improve your productivity, lessen your admin and give you more time to spend with your clients. That’s a win for you and for them!