There are so many awesome technologies available to financial advisors today that it can be hard to sort through all of your options. However, when it comes to technologies for your practice, less is more. Using too many systems can be expensive and create frustrating redundancies. Here’s my list of the essential five technologies for financial advisors:
1. FMG Suite
Nine out of ten referrals will Google you before they call to make an appointment. Like it or not, your website is your first impression for most prospects. FMG Suite provides the best websites in the industry, featuring compliance integrations with the largest broker-dealers and over 300 FINRA reviewed videos, articles and infographics pre-loaded on their sites.
All websites are optimized for SEO and mobile responsive, meaning they look great on every mobile device. They are easy to get set up and simple to update. You can login and add a team member or change information on your homepage and automatically send to compliance for approval before the changes go live.
The system has built-in platforms for blogging and an events feature that allows people to register for an event via your website. FMG Suite also offers a mobile app for your business, so that your clients can ask you a question or request an appointment from their mobile phone.
2. RedTail CRM
A CRM (customer relationship management) system is mission critical for keeping your business organized. RedTail is the best CRM for financial advisors, thoughtfully built for this industry. Here are a few of the capabilities and use cases:
- Organize client data and account information. Say you’d like to send an email to all clients over age 50 regarding IRA catch-up contributions. RedTail makes searching for clients by age and account type a snap.
- Categorize and tag records. Imagine that you have a large segment of clients who work for a single employer. RedTail allows you to tag those records so you can easily query them, send an email, or set a calendar event for those accounts.
- Reminders. Never let another birthday, anniversary, or annual account review slip through the cracks.
- Work from anywhere. Data is backed up at a secure location and available to you anywhere with an internet connection.
- Reports. What if you’d like to have an event to review a specific holding with only your top clients? Run a simple report for accounts over a certain size that include a specific position, and then add a tag to label these folks.
RedTail is incredibly robust and also offers services for document management, imaging, and email archiving. Integrations with FMG Suite, eMoney, Riskalyze, and Morningstar make using the systems together a breeze.
eMoney is easily the coolest financial planning software in the world. It allows you to communicate the complexity of financial planning with illustrations so clients can understand what you mean.
First, the platform aggregates accounts across custodians so you can show all assets in one place. Then, you can use tools including Cash Flow Planning, Estate Planning, and Goal-Based Planning with clients to illustrate the effect their decisions have on their financial lives.
For example, during a meeting your clients mention they plan to gift a lump sum to their favorite charity. In a few clicks, you can show them how that gift will impact their cash flow at age 90 or their plans to purchase a vacation cabin or their kids’ college savings.
The reports cover just about any scenario you’d like to review, and you can even share your eMoney screen with clients over the internet without third party software. One of the most compelling aspects of eMoney is the Vault, where clients can securely upload and store documents like trusts and wills. This capability is a value-add that keeps clients attached to your firm for the long haul.
Riskalyze is the technology I wish I had built. It offers a clear and quantifiable way to communicate with clients about risk. It’s also a sales tool that can be hosted front and center on your website to convert prospects.
The brazen marketing slogan of the company is “Show prospects they’re invested wrong. Prove to clients they’re invested right.” Riskalyze is a great tool to review the inherent tradeoff between risk and reward.
For example, your client Linda is extremely risk averse and insists on being invested ultra-conservatively. When her long-lost brother takes a look at her portfolio, he tells her that she hasn’t earned enough over the past year and she ought to fire her financial advisor. Using her Riskalyze questionnaire, you can gently remind her that her risk score is a 22 and that to have gotten an 11% return last year, she would have needed to invest like an 84. The tool provides a framework for managing expectations and understanding your clients’ risk profiles.
One recent bonus of Riskalyze is their new “Auto-Pilot” robo offering, where clients can automatically transfer small accounts to be managed by a third party with very low fees in a portfolio that matches their risk tolerance. Auto-pilot can neutralize the robo threat for you. It is a great solution for children of clients just starting out or smaller referral accounts you normally couldn’t take on.
5. Outsourced Marketing
Most Advisors are stretched to the limits when it comes to managing clients, improving business profitability, and addressing compliance. Today’s top advisors focus on the best use of their time, meeting with clients and creating financial plans.
It’s impossible to do all that well and manage your website analytics, email marketing, SEO, advertising, and social media. Partnering with an experienced marketing professional is a critical investment for advisors who want to grow their firms. When outsourcing your marketing, be sure to specify which key performance indicators are most important to you and require reporting on a weekly or monthly basis.
- Are you trying to increase the traffic to your website or referrals from existing clients?
- Are you building your credibility by growing your network or publishing a book that ranks in the top 25 on Amazon?
Whichever performance indicators you choose, watch them closely to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
What About a Research Tool?
Of course, you also need a data research technology like Morningstar, but I’ve found that advisors are so particular and attached to whichever platform they use for research, most will never change. It’s a strange quirk, but I rarely see an advisor switch research tools. My personal favorite happens to be Morningstar Office, but I’m not even sure it’s the best option out there. Even so, I’ve been using it forever, so I will probably never change. What about you? Which technologies are at the top of your list?
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