As a Financial Advisor, Planner, or Investment Manager, making the decision to switch financial planning software is almost never an easy one. There is much to consider, and every individual is going to have their own list of must-haves. We have spoken with thousands of Advisors and here are 4 of the most important things they tell us they’re looking for.
Your financial planning software should be transparent.
Accuracy: Transparent financial planning software provides accurate calculations and projections. It allows Advisors to input client data and generate comprehensive reports and analyses based on that information. By having access to the underlying calculations and assumptions, the Advisor can audit and validate the accuracy of the results and make more informed recommendations.
Client Understanding: Transparent software enables Financial Planners and Advisors to confidently present the calculations and assumptions to their clients in a clear and understandable manner. It helps clients see the rationale behind the recommendations and understand how various factors impact their financial goals. This transparency fosters trust and strengthens the client-Advisor relationship. Using visual charts can significantly increase client understanding, even when presenting what can be fairly complex financial plans.
Compliance: Financial Planners, specifically CFPs and QAFPs, operate within a regulatory framework that requires them to not only act in the best interests of their clients but also to understand how any tools they use work. Using transparent software helps them meet compliance requirements by ensuring that the calculations and projections are based on accurate and reasonable assumptions. It also allows for easier documentation and record-keeping, which can be essential during audits or regulatory reviews.
Flexibility: Transparent financial planning software often allows customization and flexibility. Advisors and Planners can adjust parameters, assumptions, and variables to create personalized plans that align with their clients’ unique circumstances and goals. The ability to modify inputs and observe the corresponding changes in outcomes helps planners tailor their advice and recommendations to meet clients’ specific and personal needs.
Collaboration: Transparent software can facilitate collaboration between financial planners and clients. By sharing screens and reports, planners can walk their clients through the planning process, explain different scenarios, and make adjustments in real-time. This collaborative approach enhances client engagement and ensures that both parties are on the same page when it comes to financial strategies and decisions.
Continual Improvement: Transparent financial planning software allows for ongoing evaluation and improvement of the planning process. By reviewing the underlying calculations, assumptions, and results, planners can identify areas for refinement and make adjustments as needed. This iterative approach enhances the quality of the advice provided and helps planners stay updated with evolving financial strategies and market conditions.
Your financial planning software should be highly flexible and customizable.
Client-Centric Approach: Every client has unique financial goals, circumstances, and preferences. Flexible software allows advisors to tailor the planning process and recommendations to meet each client’s specific needs. Customization ensures that the software can accommodate a wide range of client situations. For example, you should not have to lump multiple TFSAs together because your software isn’t flexible enough to allow for multiple account types. Those types of restrictions can seem insignificant at first, but are often found in practice to make data entry cumbersome and create confusion for clients. By personalizing the planning process, Advisors can provide more relevant and effective advice.
Adaptability to Changing Circumstances: Financial situations and goals can change over time. Flexible software enables advisors to modify the planning assumptions, inputs, and variables as needed, or at minimum upon annual reviews. They can incorporate new information, such as changes in income, expenses, market conditions, or regulatory changes, and update the financial plan accordingly. The ability to easily modify, remove, or add existing data ensures that the plan remains relevant and accurate even as circumstances evolve.
Multiple Planning Scenarios: Financial decisions often involve trade-offs and uncertainties. Advisors need software that can handle multiple planning scenarios to assess the impact of different choices and strategies. Customizable software allows Advisors to create and compare various scenarios, such as adjusting retirement age, changing investment allocations, or evaluating the impact of major life events. By exploring different possibilities, advisors can help clients make more informed decisions. Ideally, Advisors should have access to software that can build out multiple “what-if” scenarios in real-time. This makes the planning process more efficient and allows the Advisor to include the client in these planning discussions.
Scalability and Growth: Financial Advisors may have diverse client bases, ranging from individuals to small businesses or institutions. Flexible software can accommodate varying client sizes and complexities. It allows advisors to scale their operations and manage multiple clients efficiently. Customizable software can also adapt to the Advisor’s evolving business needs, accommodating changes in services offered or team structure. Advisors need a software that will grow and evolve the same way their practice will over time.
Your financial planning software should be easy to use, and easy to learn.
Efficiency: Easy-to-use software enables Advisors to navigate the system quickly and perform tasks efficiently. It reduces the time and effort required to input client data, generate reports, and analyze results. User-friendly dashboards, intuitive workflows, and clear navigation menus contribute to a smooth user experience. By streamlining processes, Advisors can focus more on providing value-added services to their clients.
Productivity: Learning and using complex software can be time-consuming and may require extensive training. On the other hand, easy-to-learn software allows advisors to get up to speed quickly and start using it effectively. Intuitive design, comprehensive tutorials, and user-friendly documentation facilitate a shorter learning curve. By minimizing the time spent on software training, Advisors can allocate more time to client interactions and business development. Lack of ease of use is one of the biggest barriers to software adoption. If it’s hard to learn, or hard to use, no one wants it!
Client Engagement: Simple and user-friendly software enhances the client experience during planning sessions. Advisors can easily input client information, generate visualizations, and explain the financial plan using clear and understandable reports. This simplicity improves client engagement and comprehension, allowing them to actively participate in the planning process. When clients can grasp and interact with the software, it fosters trust and confidence in the Advisor’s recommendations.
Minimized Errors: User-friendly software reduces the likelihood of user errors. Intuitive interfaces and well-designed input forms guide advisors through the data entry process, minimizing mistakes. Error-checking mechanisms, validation rules, and built-in calculators further enhance accuracy. By avoiding errors, Advisors can maintain the integrity of financial plans and ensure the accuracy of recommendations.
Support and Updates: Software providers that prioritize ease of use often offer comprehensive support resources, including documentation, tutorials, and customer service. They also release regular updates and enhancements to improve the software’s usability. Advisors can benefit from ongoing learning opportunities and access to a dedicated support team when needed.
Your financial planning software should provide industry-leading customer support and training.
Prompt Issue Resolution: In a fast-paced industry where time is of the essence, Advisors rely on responsive customer support to address any software-related issues or challenges they may encounter while planning for their clients. Industry-leading customer support ensures that Advisors receive timely assistance, minimizing any disruptions in their workflow. Prompt issue resolution helps Advisors stay productive and maintain a high level of client service.
Technical Expertise: Financial planning software can be complex, and Advisors may encounter technical questions or require guidance on specific functionalities. Industry-leading customer support typically consists of knowledgeable professionals who possess deep expertise in the software. They can provide accurate and reliable information, answer technical inquiries, and offer insights into the software’s advanced features. Having access to expert support helps Advisors make the most of the software’s capabilities.
Training and Onboarding: When implementing new financial planning software, Advisors benefit from comprehensive training and onboarding support. Industry-leading customer support often includes training resources such as tutorials, webinars, regularly updated documentation, and dedicated training sessions. This support ensures that Advisors can quickly learn and effectively use the software, minimizing the learning curve and maximizing productivity.
Ongoing Software Updates: Financial planning software should evolve to keep up with changing regulations, market trends, technological advancements, and Advisor product and feature requests. Industry-leading customer support ensures that Advisors receive regular updates and enhancements to their software. These updates often address bug fixes, introduce new features, and improve usability. Prompt and effective communication about updates allows Advisors to stay current and benefit from the latest advancements.
Proactive Communication: Software providers with industry-leading customer support prioritize proactive communication with their users. They may share important announcements, such as upcoming system maintenance or new feature releases. Proactive communication keeps Advisors informed and prepared, enabling them to plan their work accordingly and minimize any potential disruptions.
Long-Term Partnership: Industry-leading customer support fosters a strong partnership between Advisors and software providers. It goes beyond issue resolution and technical assistance; it creates a sense of trust and collaboration. Advisors feel supported and valued by the software provider, knowing that their feedback and suggestions are heard and considered. This partnership mindset promotes a long-term relationship where advisors can rely on the software provider as a trusted partner in their practice’s success.
Financial Planners and Advisors want transparent financial planning software because it promotes accuracy, client understanding, compliance, flexibility, collaboration, and continual improvement. By using transparent tools, Advisors can provide better-informed advice and build stronger relationships with their clients.
Highly flexible and customizable financial planning software empowers Advisors to deliver personalized advice, adapt to changing circumstances, and explore different scenarios. It enhances the Advisor’s ability to provide tailored solutions and improves client outcomes.
Advisors want easy-to-use and easy-to-learn financial planning software because it enhances efficiency, productivity, client engagement, and accuracy. By choosing user-friendly tools, Advisors can focus on providing exceptional service and delivering more value to their clients.
Financial Advisors and Planners want financial planning software with industry-leading customer support to ensure prompt issue resolution, access to technical expertise, comprehensive training, ongoing software updates, proactive communication, and a long-term partnership. Access to top-notch customer support enhances Advisors’ confidence in the software and allows them to focus on providing exceptional service to their clients.
If you are a Financial Advisor, Planner, or Investment Manager who is currently in research-mode for a new financial planning software, there is a lot to consider. For a Canadian planning software platform that ticks off all these boxes, check out Snap Projections. You can also review several direct product comparisons.