The use of technology in the financial advisory business has steadily become more and more widespread, and over the past couple of years, new providers of have been entering the field with a range of Web-based and application-based technological solutions to make advisors’ work more efficient and productive.
One of the latest products available to financial advisors is Fremont, California-based AdviceAmerica’s recently released AdvisorVision Retirement Income Edition, a software package that specifically addresses the retirement income expectations and needs of Baby Boomers. This sophisticated yet easy-to-use tool allows advisors to quickly create entire retirement plans for their clients through a range of scenarios that take into account, among others, clients’ assets, savings and cash flow, expenses, income, market performance and healthcare needs in the future. The software creates a sort of dashboard for each client, which allows an advisor to see his or her entire profile in an instant.
This latest edition of AdvisorVision (the Retirement Income edition is the sixth generation of the program) takes the technology AdviceAmerica has thus far used in the financial advisory business one step further, and proves that without the use of technology, it is very difficult for advisors to stay both abreast of market changes and ahead of the game, Pareekh says.
“We have extracted the brainpower of advisors and turned it into a software model that can analyze every situation in order to make specific recommendations,” says Purna Pareekh, founder and CEO of AdviceAmerica. “The tool can make an advisor’s life very productive by allowing them time for giving advice and for relationship management, which are a very large part of the business.”
Written by a team of software engineers in India, with the input of financial domain experts and CFAs, AdviceAmerica’s tool can also be customized as per an individual advisor’s needs, thereby allowing for an even more efficient work model. The software’s main attribute is that it allows advisors to centralize everything they need to plan for a particular client’s retirement needs, and it also allows advisors to model “what if” scenarios for their clients, Pareekh says.
Retirement finance professionals agree that advisors today cannot hope to do their work properly without making use of technology. The FPA’s 2004 survey of technology and internet usage by financial advisors highlighted the increased usage of technology by practitioners, (many of whom have, among other things, set up their own practice Web sites) and since then, an even greater number has become more tech- and internet-savvy, investing in the range of programs and software packages available in the market.
“Depending on your firm’s budget and needs, most software for financial or investment planning is out there,” says George Toth, CFP and president of Glenside, Pennsylvania-based Chestnut Investment Advisory. “Many of these programs have integrated functionality and are scalable.”
But even so, there are still many advisors who do not make use of any kind of technology at all, says Angie Lyles, founder of Portland, Oregon-based Cornerstone Revolutions, LLC, makers of Cornerstone PowerAdvisor’s asset management software.
“I have seen many advisors who do not use any kind of software or Web-based tool, and I have no idea how they do things,” Lyles says. “There are still people doing performance reporting from Excel spreadsheets, for instance, which is so time-consuming and prone to error.” These days, it is mandatory for advisors to make use of the progress in technology if they are to better serve a client base that is also increasingly knowledgeable, Lyles says. Investing in technology need not be a huge expense, as there is such a range of product available in the market that can suit the budgets of even smaller firms.
But even if software applications like PowerAdvisor and AdvisorVision do make life a lot more efficient for financial advisors, Lyles believes there is still a lacuna in the market with respect to the smooth handling of compliance issues. There is still no tool that can really take care of all the facets of compliance, she says, and most advisors are inundated with the cumbersome and costly burden of being compliant.
“There are so many things to keep track of in order to remain compliant,” she says, “so this is an area that we would like to see some technological advances in.”