If you are like me, when you evaluate new software you are looking for specific features. You wonder: “How will this software take care of “X”? Or, “Can it help me with “Y”.
Before you even try new software, you want to know right away: “Is this software going to solve my problem?” Or, in other words, “If I use this software, will my problem go away?”.
When we set out to develop modern financial and retirement planning software, we didn’t know what would make it good. So, we asked our customers.
We asked over 1,000 Canadian Financial Advisors, Planners and Investment Managers what they found the most challenging when developing financial and retirement projections for their clients. Here’s what we’ve learned.
“All that data entry takes me too long”
We found out that no matter what financial planning software they were using, the data entry process was both frustrating and time consuming. Advisors wanted to spend less time on data entry and more time on helping clients.
“It takes me hours to develop financial projections”
Why is creating new projections or updating existing ones taking so long? First, the existing software was too complex and not user-friendly, making it difficult to efficiently work with it and to develop projections.
Second, the existing software just wasn’t flexible enough. It was built upon rigid assumptions (e.g. around retirement age) and does not allow to develop more sophisticated scenarios. It prevents advisors from modelling real-life scenarios of their clients.
Some advisors attempted to develop their own solutions (e.g. in Excel). While those solutions are more flexible, they are error prone. It is easy to make a change in an excel spreadsheet and you are at risk of dramatically impacting your projections – without even noticing it!
Catching such mistakes is hard. It is also difficult to train new staff on these home-grown solutions and there is considerable effort associated with maintaining them (e.g. you need to update new tax rates every time they change).
“Clients don’t understand 50-page reports (their eyes glaze over…)”
Advisors often complained of spending considerable time on prepping and formatting client reports. The reports generated by their programs are typically not extensible and don’t allow for adding comments from the advisor. Many look dated and unprofessional.
You could always use a Word document to develop a client report but that is time-consuming and best reserved for comprehensive reports.
We found that most clients just want to know if they are on track to retire comfortably. We asked consumers what they want to see in their financial plan and then designed a report laid out exactly in the format they want to see.
We found simple reports are easier to understand for clients and don’t overwhelmed them by unnecessary complexity. A visually appealing, easy to navigate template that you can easily update, enter your comments into and automatically create a client report from it works much better than a long, complex 50-page report that is never read!
“I can’t run quick what-if scenarios with a client in my office”
Often an advisor prepares two or three different plans for a client. Sometimes a client will request a few modifications to a selected plan. They may want to know: “If I take a year-long sabbatical at age 55, can I still retire comfortably?” or “Can we run the same projection but increase the rates of return by 1%?”.
Creating what-if scenarios is immensely useful. Not only do they show the impact of a client’s decisions but they help the client understand the consequences of these decisions and how they may impact their lifestyle at retirement. If you cannot efficiently run what-if scenarios with a client, this will set you back in time spent on additional client meetings and client satisfaction may suffer.
Conversely, if you can easily demonstrate what-if scenarios for your clients during the meeting, you’ll quickly notice the following:
- Clients love seeing what-if scenarios and instead of being helpless and detached, they become fully engaged in the planning process.
- As a result, client meetings are easier to conduct, run more smoothly and are more enjoyable.
- Clients tend to be more satisfied with the planning process as they gain more understanding and clarity about their financial matters.
- Thus, clients gain a lot more appreciation for the work you are doing for them that positively impacts referrals.
Did you notice the recurring theme?
Do you agree?
At Snap Projections it’s not something we get a lot of complaints about. That’s because we believe no matter the function of the software, it must bring you closer to your end goal. It must make your life easier as the whole point of using technology is leverage. Doing more with less.
Want to spend less time and do more for your clients?