You’ve heard it over and over again. Technology is the way of the future; it’s the only way to compete in an ever-changing and fast-paced economy. But how many of you actually have time to delve into the intricacies of all the technological products out there on the market, especially with the vast selection for virtually every purpose you can think of?
It’s hard enough trying to figure out what all the buttons are for on the television’s remote control. Nevertheless, the reality is that you need to know at least a little about this stuff. So we took a look at some of the coolest and most useful products in client management and IT security to narrow it all down for you. Here’s what we found.
How to maximize client relationships
Your clients need effective wealth management and you need to distinguish yourself in a competitive marketplace. EMoney Advisors’s Advisor Platform promises to help you do this. EMoney Advisors asks, “What unique services will you offer your clients to help you stand out of the crowd?” The Advisor Platform is a software-based planning tool that helps you retain and attract clients, increase revenue, increase assets under management and position yourself as your clients’ financial advisor. And it’s all done via the Web, or as CEO Edmund Walters refers to it, “the new telephone.”
Just over five years ago the brainstorming began. Walters looked at the Web and thought, “How can this change my industry? How can this change my business?” So he made a list of his problems. Because he frequently traveled to visit clients, he wasn’t able to access other clients’ records until he got back to the office.
“I had to fix that,” he said. “With aggregation I can tell them in a second,” Walters says. “If they want to know how the trust reads I can go online on the E-Money vault and I can read the document to them over the phone and explain how it works. They were the things that only the Web could provide.”
An advisor himself, Walters knew first-hand what advisors need. He realized that by incorporating the Web with the needs of financial planners he could help modernize what he called an “antiquated industry.” That was five years ago. Today, many advisors are swearing by it.
What sold the case for Ron Carson, President of Carson Wealth Management Group in Omaha, Neb., was to be able to go online and see the estate planning documents in a secure vault. He refers to the Platform as his “back office.”
The Platform gives a Web page for every client and every advisor. Clients can go online and see their net worth, asset allocation, the value of their assets and liabilities, the stock indices and the cash value of their life insurance all with the click of a mouse.
For more information, visit www.emoneyadvisor.com.
How to attain better IT security
In all of its glory and convenience, the Web has its downfalls when it comes to security that even the biggest and brightest computer geeks can’t seem to get their heads around. That is, how to confront the ever-growing issue of IT security?
Pragmatix is one company that has set out to help financial advisors, specifically, attain better IT security. How are they doing this? Well, they do the work for you and claim to give the same level of IT security that the larger wirehouses have.
“Financial planners’ activities and conduct are thoroughly regulated in their role as investment advisors, insurance agents, stock brokers, accountants and attorneys. Therefore, it is critical that the data they handle is secure, confidential and that all compliance regulations regarding electronic documents are met,” says Bill Abram, president of Pragmatix for Senior Investment Advisor.
Walter Morales, CEO of Commonwealth Advisors, says that his reasons for using this system is simple. “Pragmatix enables my firm to access our critical systems remotely, regardless of location and ensures that we always have a secure environment that is always reliable.”
Through an IBM system, Pragmatix supplies Web site hosting, corporate intranet, e-mail and BlackBerry support, backup and server management to individual financial planners and financial services companies that have 75 or fewer desktops. Because hosting is provided at a secure IBM data center that includes server maintenance, intrusion detection and firewall services, they claim that they severely reduce the risk of power failures, data loss and security breaches while allowing for increased productivity.
Sounds great, but the usual question lingers: How is this different than all the other security products out there? Abram tells us that the difference is in the package. “Though financial planners can purchase all of the components of this type of solution separately, Pragmatix Gold is packaged and fully managed.”
He goes on to say that they can customize a package on a client-by-client basis, allowing them to directly address the client’s specific needs. Financial planners can also designate certain people in their firm to view sensitive information, keeping private matters what they are supposed to be – private.
“This solution takes the whole worry of IT management, compliance and security out of the client’s hands. There’s no need to worry if they’re on vacation or if there’s a power outage. They know that no matter where they are, their IT is being managed and backed up.”
We think this peace of mind may be worth at least looking into. For more information, visit www. Pragmatixgold.com.
How to bring in clients and impress existing ones
You know the spiel by now… It’s not just about having access to e-mail, it’s about being out there, getting your brand and your name on the Web – and you do this by having a Web site. Are you thinking, “Okay already?” If you are, then you get the point and most likely have heeded our advice and spent the time and money to get yourself a Web site. But the reality is that many advisors still are not on the Web. People – and not just young people – tend to discredit your business if you don’t have a Web site. They’ll just move on to the next advisor who does, and that’s the harsh reality.
According to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life project, the number of seniors online has increased 50 percent in the last four years. In fact, the study shows that almost 60 percent of younger seniors, age 50 to 64, are active Internet users.
Edmond Walters informs us that seniors are the fastest growing demographic on the Internet, and many rely on it for finding information and making purchases. “Nearly 75 percent use the Internet to find health information, and 78 percent make online purchases worth $7 billion annually,” he says.
Walters describes high-net-worth seniors as “technically savvy” and “financially savvy,” concluding that, “No innovative marketing tactic should be taken off the table over concerns over their lack of technology or financial expertise.”
So if you’re avoiding getting online because you think that seniors don’t use the Internet, think again. Whether you want to attract potential clients and get that first, face-to-face meeting, or you want to enhance existing relationships, the Internet is the latest and greatest way to get you there.
For those of you who are not so technically savvy with all the latest online functions, you may think that Internet marketing is exclusive to building a Web site. Not quite. A Web site is only the beginning. There are e-newsletters, blogs, e-brochures, client videos and more. And the options don’t stop here. So take some time out of your day and start surfing the Web to learn more about it. If you don’t have the time, find someone who does, and watch your business reap the benefits.