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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

3 Tech Tools to Help Advisors Do More With Less

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With all of the devastation and disruption we experienced last year, it’s no surprise that so many people were happy to see the back of 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected businesses and families across the country, and financial planners have had to contend with more than the usual financial stress and worry from clients since last year.

A survey conducted by the CFP Board in April 2020 found that 64% of certified financial planner professionals noted their clients were experiencing high or very high levels of stress. According to the survey, the top three financial concerns expressed by clients to financial planners during the pandemic have been managing volatility, protecting assets and liquidity. 

Since social distancing and Zoom etiquette became part of the national discourse, financial planning and wealth management professionals have been bombarded with questions and requests for advice from clients. The CFP Board reported that 78% of CFP professionals experienced an increase in client inquiries during the pandemic, and 34% of CFP professionals have seen a rise in inquiries from prospects.

We have observed this trend among the advisors utilizing our NaviPlan financial planning platform. In June 2020 alone, there was a 64% increase in updates to financial plans completed in NaviPlan, compared with June 2019. Also, as of Oct. 5, 2020, advisors had created 828,000 new financial plans year-to-date, or 138,000 new plans per month — and had updated more than 1.02 million existing plans, or 170,000 per month, year-to-date. 

With advisors having to contend with much higher demand for their time and expertise from clients, while also continuing to operate their practices efficiently and generate new business, the pandemic has accelerated trends in the industry. However, financial planning technology innovations that were already available before COVID-19 can help financial planners manage the uptick in inquiries from clients and prospects, while enhancing their value proposition and growing their businesses. 

Below is a list of the digital tools that financial planners can harness to potentially do more for clients and prospects, in less time.

1. Client Portals

Advisors can strengthen their engagement with clients, while putting them at ease, through interactive client portals, where clients can access their financial plans remotely at any time from any location. The client portals offered by some technology providers enable clients to adjust contributions and time spans, and comprehensively see how those changes would affect their goals — on their own, without advisors having to model scenarios for them. 

Nevertheless, advisors can also monitor clients’ activity within the client portal, and begin financial planning conversations with clients based on the information they entered and the scenarios they viewed.

2. Side-by-Side Scenarios 

Some modern financial planning solutions include presentation tools allowing advisors to create side-by-side scenarios to address clients’ questions and concerns. When an anxious client calls about market activity, an advisor can act as a calming influence by modeling the client’s current financial situation next to the advisor’s recommended plan of action — within the client portal. If the advisor’s financial planning technology provider enables the modeling of unlimited scenarios, then the advisor can address any hypothetical question and demonstrate the impact of any recommendation in real time. 

3. Self-Guided Retirement Needs Analysis for Prospects 

At a time when many people have been laid off or furloughed, and haven’t been able to save money for retirement due to a decrease or loss of income, advisors can showcase their value by helping prospects estimate how much money they would need to cover expenses and meet goals in retirement. Some modern financial planning solutions enable advisors to email a link to prospects that can take them to a portal where — on their own time, and at their own pace — they can fill in details such as age, family makeup and current annual income. The platform’s calculation engine can then use these details to estimate how much savings the prospect would need to meet likely expenses and meet their goals. Smart assumptions, and integrations with third-party providers of health care data, can also help prospects estimate how much they would need to save in order to cover all likely medical expenses in each phase of retirement. 

These smarter, more accurate retirement projections can also help advisors better understand each prospect’s concerns, financial situation, and goals before beginning more in-depth conversations. 

The above are just some of the innovative, artificial-intelligence-driven financial planning solutions that advisors can utilize to do more with less — for more clients and prospects. While the pandemic has understandably driven a sharp uptick in demand for financial planning services, advisors can adapt and thrive with the help of cutting-edge technology that enhances their value.  

Angela Pecoraro is CEO of Advicent, the provider of NaviPlan, which supports more than 140,000 financial professionals across more than 3,000 firms worldwide.


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