Technology has rapidly evolved over the past decade to help financial advisors better understand and manage their business and clientele.

Advisors can easily aggregate client information from a large number of sources rather than relying on outdated statements that must be manually keyed into a spreadsheet. Moreover, this data can be automatically analyzed for key insights and displayed using effective visualizations to convey key points. These same benefits can be applied to an advisor’s own business through dashboards showing key performance indicators—or KPIs.

Let's take a look at the best technologies for advisors looking to better understand their businesses and clients. (For more, see: Top Tech Trends for Advisors in 2016.)

Data Aggregation

Technology excels at reducing manual labor through automation. Rather than inputting client data from paper statements, advisors should use data aggregation tools that automatically pull in data from financial institutions via the web.

Many popular advisor solutions already include data aggregation functionality. For example, client portal providers like BlueLeaf and advisor software like MoneyGuidePro already come equipped with data aggregation functionality out-of-the-box. Those using proprietary or outdated systems can add data aggregation functionality by working directly with companies like Yodlee and ByAllAccounts that connect to thousands of different financial institutions. (For related reading, see: Data Aggregation: How to Provide It to Clients.)

Client Portals

Client portals have become increasingly popular among end users, since they provide real-time insights into investors' financial health. The rise of robo-advisors like Weathfront and Betterment has made these types of features more of a must-have than a nice-to-have.

The good news is that there are several software packages that provide client portals out-of-the-box for financial advisors, while a growing number of broker-dealer platforms are offering their own solutions. Morningstar recently launched its own client portals with data aggregation features, while BlueLeaf provides client portals as a standalone service. These portals can help keep clients engaged and increase overall satisfaction over time.

CRM Solutions

Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions have become a popular way to help financial advisors juggle a large number of clients. With client expectations on the rise and robo-advisors taking market share, it’s more important than ever to maintain solid client relationships.

There are many different CRM solutions on the market designed for advisors, including eMoneyAdvisor, WealthBox, and even Salesforce.com Inc. In many cases, these software solutions have bundled in many of the aforementioned features, including data aggregation and client portals to create a holistic solution. Others include real-time alerts to follow up with clients based on their connected accounts with potential upselling opportunities. (For related reading, see: New Apps for Advisors Who Work Remotely.)

KPI Dashboards

Financial advisors looking to improve their own businesses with technology should consider using dashboards showing real-time key performance indicators—KPIs. These dashboards can help keep relevant business metrics at the forefront at all times.

Companies like SimpleKPI and Domo can help build out these dashboards using data that’s automatically aggregated from external services. For example, advisors may want to track their top-line revenue in real-time through an integration with Intuit’s QuickBooks. Advisors may also want to consider non-financial metrics like client retention rates and churn in order to ensure that they’re growing their business efficiently over time.

The Bottom Line

Technology has the potential to dramatically transform the lives of financial advisors by automating time consuming tasks and presenting real-time information in effective ways. Data aggregation helps save time in recording data, client portals help keep clients up to date on their financial condition, CRM solutions help maintain close relationships with clients, and KPI dashboards help advisors keep abreast of their businesses to ensure that they’re always on the right track. In the end, all of these solutions represent great ways for financial advisors to dramatically improve their workflow and overall profitability over time. (For related reading, see: Fiduciary Rule Prompts New Tech Products and Top Ways for Advisors to Avoid Tech Glitches.)

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