New applications, software, online products and services and cloud-based systems to help financial advisors are cropping up at rapid speed. When it comes to serving clients in a state-of-the-art way, these 10 tools are indispensable.
The NestEgg Estimator, a Google app, is a comprehensive retirement tool that projects the client’s finances into the future and breaks them down into income, taxes, assets and debt. The advisor can input varying amounts of data: The more data, the more detailed and accurate results. The app also gives the advisor the opportunity to play out various scenarios, such as changes in job, expenses, spending and many more.
Advent Software's Black Diamond is a cloud-based portfolio management platform. The features it offers independent financial advisors include information aggregation, customizable reporting, rebalancing and daily account reconciliation.
Black Diamond Mobile App
The Black Diamond mobile app, an add-on to the Black Diamond management platform, is one for the clients. It keeps them updated on their account and portfolio information. The app also offers a secure messaging system, ideal for advisor and client collaboration.
Although many older advisors eschew the newer marketing and communication models, the planner without a strong online presence across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is at a disadvantage. To reign in these unwieldy platforms and systematize their delivery, Hootsuite, a social media marketing aggregator, is ideal. This 'freemium' product allows the advisor to post and respond to many social media accounts from one central location. A favorite Hootsuite feature is the opportunity to schedule social media posts in advance. (For more, see: How Financial Advisors Are Leveraging Social Media.)
Paladin Research and Registry
This free-to-consumers site serves people seeking a professional financial planner. To appear in their directory gives an advisor credibility and exposure. For a fee, this investor watchdog organization will rate an advisor according to experience, education, certifications and other proprietary criteria. If the advisor passes the Paladin screening, he is eligible for a spot on its "five-star registry," thereby broadening his professional profile.
Fugent offers a variety of software geared to financial service professionals. Its app for tablets is a unique remote presentation tool for out-of-office client meetings. The beauty of the app is that the advisor can elaborate on any uploaded document or report's content, trends and information by writing on the document with their finger. How cool to draw a blue trend line right on a PDF!
Cloud-based back-up services: These storage and transfer systems are constantly improving in accessibility as well as security. There are many to choose from, but today’s advisor and her clients need a system to access and share important information from anywhere. Dropbox is one of the more popular and reliable.
Data-gathering is one of the most tedious parts of the financial advisor's job. Precise FP outsources this task. Clients input their information and attach appropriate forms and documents, and Precise FP aggregates the data into consistent, user-friendly forms. The attractive sheets can present the client data in diverse formats.
Scheduling meetings can be time-consuming for both the advisor and staff, frequently leading to lost minutes or hours. Bookeo.com acts like a super-secretary/concierge. From a ‘get acquainted’ meeting to a follow up with an existing client, Bookeo takes care of making appointments, gathering the name, email, address, and phone information of the other party or parties. The system is highly customizable too.
The advisor must keep up with his or her online reputation. Google Alerts is an ideal tool to find out the ‘who, what, and where’ of your personal and company mentions. Set up an alert for the company name as well as your individual name. That way, you know whenever you receive a media mention online. It’s a great way for the professional to monitor social media marketing efforts and online presence.
The Bottom Line
Technology is redefining the way financial advisors do their jobs today. Finding and utilizing the latest tools is essential for creating and maintaining relationships and maximizing productivity.
For more advice, see Top Tools Every Financial Advisor Needs and Top Publications for Financial Advisors.