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Choosing Technology for Your Advisory Firm—CRM and Financial Planning

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Last week we discussed some key issues to consider when selecting technology for an independent advisory firm. This week, we will discuss the types of technology you will need and list a few options for contact management and financial planning. Next week, we will conclude our series on how to choose your technology with a discussion of some products for investment/portfolio analysis. 

The technology needs of an advisor will depend on the services offered. We will assume you are a solo practitioner offering asset management and financial planning services, and that you do all of your own investment research. Based on this, here is a short list of the types of technology you will need:

1)      Contact Management

2)      Financial Planning

3)      Investment/Portfolio Analysis

Contact Management

Customer relationship management (CRM), or contact management, software is the heart of your business. It allows you to communicate with clients, schedule and track activities, create business processes and much more. A few years ago, while attending a conference, a well-known advisor technology expert commented that many advisors were using Microsoft Outlook as a CRM, which he considered a poor choice for this purpose. 

There are really two options. One sits on your desktop and the other is on the cloud. Advisors are increasingly turning to the cloud for the following reasons. First, it expands the possibility for integration with other software. Second, a CRM on the cloud provides advisors with access from a mobile device. We will focus on cloud-based options. Salesforce may be the most robust system, but it is also a bit pricey. Redtail is another good option and is much less expensive. Both products have a number of integration partners. Here are two links with more options.

More options: Capterra Top Contact Management Products

Financial CRM options: Capterra Top Financial CRM Software Products 

(For more on how to choose a CRM system, please see Spenser Segal’s ongoing series of blogs on ThinkAdvisor on this very topic.) 

Financial Planning

The product you select should be comprehensive in scope, highly accurate and intuitive. MoneyGuidePro offers a nice tool with robust features. However, in my opinion it falls short in the areas of estate and tax planning, which are two of the most important issues to the higher-net-worth client. Another product, eMoney, is strong in all areas of planning. Advicent has an excellent financial planning tool in Naviplan. If you are looking for a comprehensive tool, which includes income tax and estate planning, eMoney and Naviplan are good choices. Advicent has multiple options including Naviplan for advanced planning, Financial Profiles for goals-based planning, and its new, client-centric tool, Figlo. 

Next week, we will discuss investment and portfolio analysis products.

Until then, thanks for reading and have a great week!