In an age when “robo-advisor” is part of the mainstream lexicon, financial advisors must ensure their clients understand the value they provide.
Unlike robos, advisors can harness in-depth market expertise and cycle experience as well as fundamental research to help clients make well-informed investment decisions. Advisors can also act as a calming influence on investors during times of market stress.
Even more significantly, advisors possess the capability to present a holistic financial picture for investors and utilize insights from this snapshot to create financial plans that clients can find more useful and valuable.
Advisors can enhance the quality of the financial plans they offer clients in several ways:
1. Offer a broad selection of advanced scenarios. Just as no two snowflakes are exactly alike, neither are people, so clients are unlikely to have identical financial or retirement goals. To effectively service and demonstrate value for clients of all ages and life stages, advisors require an arsenal far more advanced than simply looking at retirement income, business planning, or tuition-saving scenarios.
In order to determine the ideal financial planning strategy, advisors must be able to seamlessly perform the scenario that best suits every client’s needs, goals, assets and concerns. Advanced business planning, estate planning, stock option, and retirement income scenarios, as well as Monte Carlo and detailed tax analysis, can create far more comprehensive and precise financial plans. This is why advisors need to make sure their practice’s financial planning software doesn’t limit the type or complexity of the scenarios they can demonstrate for clients.
2. Empower clients to take control of their personal finances. By incorporating cash flow analysis and budgeting scenarios into financial plans, advisors can help clients develop better personal finance habits, and potentially save more from month to month. Budgeting scenarios can also show clients how they can productively utilize any extra savings they accrue, such as paying off loans or buying holiday gifts later in the year. This personal finance guidance and insight strengthens the holistic wealth management benefit that advisors can deliver.
3. Bring financial plans to life in digital client portals: An advisory practice’s wealth management technology suite should include an interactive client portal where clients can securely log in at any time, and from anywhere, to view real-time progress toward their long-term financial goals. The portals available today can allow clients to seamlessly track goal progress and investment performance, access account reports and market commentary, and reach out to advisors regarding any questions or concerns during their portal navigation.
Client portals also enable clients to manually experiment with adjusted time horizons, contributions, and other factors to see how these changes would affect their financial goals. In turn, advisors can demonstrate scenarios, explain potential opportunities, and hold complicated financial conversations in real time.
4. Aggregate accounts: Advisors can also use these client portals to aggregate useful external data into their dashboard by giving clients the option to upload information from outside accounts and loans from banks and other institutions. Being able to keep track of all accounts and loans in a single location not only simplifies clients’ management of their personal finances and investments, but also helps them understand how financial planning decisions and strategies affect their overall wealth and net worth.
The capability to personalize and refine an impactful financial plan is a key differentiator for advisors. By continuing to strengthen the insights and advice in the financial plans they craft, advisors can demonstrate to clients that the value they provide to them — and their families — more than justifies their higher-than-robo fees.
Independent advisors, like all entrepreneurs, are pressed for time and resources. Fortunately for them, some financial planning software available today can enable them to efficiently create more meaningful and insightful financial plans and strengthen client engagement and relationships.
Angela Pecoraro is CEO of Advicent, the financial planning technology provider for more than 140,000 financial professionals across more than 3,000 firms worldwide.