More Choice For Agents In Wealth Management
Increasing numbers of managed account providers are marketing desktop or Web-based wealth management products to agents seeking to present material to their clients in a way thats easy to understand.
Many of these same products aim to simplify the agents financial planning tasks as well, and offer a means of diversification that, until recent technological advances, was not typical of individually managed accounts.
Among them is Finpack Version 6.0, a desktop tool offered by the Finpack Unit of SunGard Insurance Systems, a fully owned subsidiary of SunGard, Wayne, Pa.
SunGard has five main lines of products; Finpack is the banner product of its planning division, says Luis Traslavina, vice president, Financial Planning Systems, Miami, Fla.
Finpack is mainly targeted to life insurance professionals and financial planners. Because they work with numbers, lawyers who do estate planning and CPAs are a tangential market for the software, says Traslavina.
“Were also marketing to banks now, because banks have in-house insurance professionals, so insurance professionals means any financial institution that is marketing life insurance products,” says Traslavina.
Traslavina describes Finpack 6.0 as “comprehensive because it approaches all aspects of financial planning, but it avoids unnecessary complications and details.”
Basically, an agent types in a clients information, and the software calculates the basic needs analyses, Traslavina explains. “It covers survival needs analysis, retirement planning, education needs funding, disability insurance analysis and estate planning, and it gets into areas even more sophisticated, such as asset allocationwhich is not an easy thing to understandbut we do it in such a way that we keep it streamlined.”
The system is also modular; it allows a user to run one type of need analysis without automatically prompting the entire gamut of financial planning tools, Traslavina says.
Microsoft PowerPoint presentations are built into the software, so once a user plugs in a clients personal information and the program does a need analysis, the results automatically come out in a PowerPoint presentation, notes Traslavina. “We automated that process, so the planners use that to present to their clients so they can provide some recommendations.”
The software also has a support library, which includes conceptual documents, says Traslavina. “There are many titles through PowerPoint and [Microsoft] Word documents where we explain complex financial planning concepts, so it educates.”
Traslavina adds that the software comes with a users guide, sample cases and technical support. If a user has questions regarding how to enter the data or how to make the system perform a function, or if he or she needs an explanation of the results, support can be found online from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday.
A user must have at least Windows 98 to use Finpack Version 6.0, says Traslavina. Also needed are 64 megabytes (MB) of random-access memory (RAM), and about 40MB of available disk space. There is no Macintosh version of Finpack.
SunGard is currently developing the next generation of the system, called Versatile Financial Planner (VFP), which will be purely Web-based, according to Traslavina. VFP will work regardless of operating system, he notes; its only requirement will be a Web browser.
Traslavina names Financial Profiles, offered by Financial Profiles Inc., Carlsbad, Calif., as one of Finpacks competitors.
“Thats probably the best-known financial planning (tool) out there,” says Traslavina. “Weve been doing this a long time, but we havent been good at getting the word out.”
Finpack has been around in a DOS-based version since 1984; the desktop version was created in the 1990s, Traslavina explains.
Because VFP is so new, Traslavina says hes not yet able to guess at an accurate cost: “We still have to work that out.” But, the desktop software is $595 with an annual $195 maintenance fee.
Agents at Beneficial Life, Salt Lake City, have been using Finpack for about a month and a half, and the firms managing director of field development communications and director of career agencies is guardedly optimistic about it.
“Its been successful, but its only been a short time,” says Richard R. Allen. “In a limited time weve had agents call and say it has helped them make a sale when they werent able to before.”