Financial advisors have a complex and fluid job, helping a range of clients with unique situations and financial goals—keeping track can be difficult! New applications, software, online products and services, and cloud-based systems designed 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.
- As an independent financial advisor, having a suite of tools and applications at your fingertips can streamline your business and help you better serve your clients.
- Software and mobile-based apps are now available (many for free) to help you organize, keep track of clients, compute financial formulas, and find new client leads.
- Building a far-reaching online presence is an important part of an advisor's business.
- Many tools allow for screen sharing and virtual meetings, eliminating the need for in-person appointments and possibly a physical office altogether.
- Advisors should choose the tools they believe will give their clients the cleanest, easiest-to-understand experience.
1. Retirement Nest Egg Calculator
The Nest Egg Calculator, a Vanguard tool, runs a client's finances through a powerful Monte Carlo Simulation that breaks down how long that client's retirement savings would last. The advisor simply plugs in a client's minimum required period for retirement savings, their savings balance, and their yearly spending. After that, the advisor would adjust the tool to accurately portray their client's portfolio allocation as percentages of stocks, bonds, and cash. The tool will show a curve and determine the probability of the client's savings lasting through the time period that was selected. This is a very useful and simple tool.
2. Black Diamond Wealth Platform
Advent Software's Black Diamond Wealth Platform is a cloud-based portfolio management platform. The features it offers independent financial advisors include information aggregation, customizable reporting, rebalancing, and daily account reconciliation.
This tool is useful for client-facing interactions as the dashboard is clear and easy to understand, even if you are not well-versed in finance. This makes it easy for the advisor to explain complex scenarios to a client with materials that facilitate the client's understanding.
3. 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. Depending on the subscription model, an advisor is able to group all social messaging platforms into Hootsuite and is able to analyze performance across all channels with powerful reporting.
5. 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, they are eligible for a spot on its "five-star registry," thereby broadening their professional profile.
Fugent offers a variety of software geared to sales managers, wholesalers, marketing teams, and 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. Fugent also provides content analytics, though it may not be as powerful a tool as Google.
In today's ever-changing world, many people are forgoing in-person meetings as much as possible. Having the option to present virtually is something Fugent facilitates well and can even be used to expand your geographical working area without losing that personal feel.
Cloud-based backup services: These storage and transfer systems are constantly improving their accessibility as well as security. There are many to choose from, but today’s advisors and their clients need a system to access and share important information from anywhere. Dropbox is one of the more popular and reliable.
Dropbox also offers features such as a document scanner, massive file storage, watermarking, syncing between devices, and screen capture and record. These can all be useful tools when an advisor needs to communicate something to their client when their client may not be available for a face-to-face meeting.
8. Precise FP
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.
Precise FP offers lead generation integrations into their service. This is designed so advisors can spend more time focusing on developing content and actual client meetings versus being bogged down in clunky marketing software.
Scheduling meetings can be time-consuming for both the advisor and staff, frequently leading to lost minutes or hours. Bookeo acts like a super-secretary. 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 as well.
10. Google Alerts
Every advisor needs to stay on top of their 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.
What Is Monte Carlo Financial Planning?
Monte Carlo financial planning is done with a tool called the Monte Carlo simulation. It can be used for corporate business as well but is commonly used by financial models when considering retirement savings outcomes. A Monte Carlo simulation takes a random sampling of inputs in order to represent an array of results from the input. The Vanguard tool in this article uses over 100,000 data points, and that is not uncommon.
What Is the Role of Financial Planning?
Financial planners will meet with their clients and will work out a plan. This is usually done to determine retirement needs and strategies, but can also include business and tax considerations. Those with considerable assets would also use financial planning to make informed decisions on risk management and estate planning.
How Do Financial Advisors Get Clients?
The best way for advisors to get clients is to service their existing clientele so well, they can't help but refer their friends and family. Obviously, these leads are some of the easiest to close, but a financial advisor who doesn't have referrals coming in can perform outreach services such as massively discounted planning or pro bono work, give speeches or host small community events, or simply market online.
The Bottom Line
Technology is redefining the way financial advisors do their jobs. Finding and utilizing the latest tools is essential for creating and maintaining relationships and maximizing productivity. Advisors are competing in a difficult environment since the advent of the extremely popular robo-advisors, and need to use all the tools at their disposal to give their clients an exceptional experience.