As financial advisors aim to provide more value to their clients, they’ve turned to technology to boost efficiency while providing more comprehensive services. But knowing what to use and when can be a puzzle. In the wide world of financial planning software for advisors, knowing what best fits your firm can be difficult.
At Carson, we provide multiple technologies to help simplify the planning process. From MoneyGuide to Holistiplan to Carson Gameplan, plus our in-house investment platform and Client Experience portal, our partners have the tools they need to help a client through every step of the planning process.
What financial planning software works best for your firm depends on your specific needs, the resources you’re willing to devote and the experience of your clients and your team.
Table of Contents
- What is Financial Planning Software for Advisors?
- Capabilities of Financial Planning Software for Advisors
- Prioritize Ease of Use and User Experience
- Selecting a Financial Planning Software
- Financial Planning Software as a Competitive Advantage
What is Financial Planning Software for Advisors?
Financial planning software is any software that arms advisors with a holistic view of their client’s financial situation to unlock insights and facilitate meaningful conversations.
It allows you to create a plan that puts them on the path to pursuing their short-term and long-term goals, plus customizes recommendations based on their risk tolerance and time horizon.
Financial planning software for advisors can help you tailor a plan that aligns with your client’s personal values, including making decisions based on socially responsible investing or fulfilling philanthropic desires. Ensuring a client’s core beliefs are reflected helps you build even further trust with your client.
The main thing to remember is that financial planning software can’t and won’t replace the personalized service you offer. Rather, it’s there to enhance your value. As clients become more engaged and take an ongoing approach to financial planning, technology then helps you manage more frequent communication and collaboration. Technology also ensures you are compliant with the frequent flow of new regulations, such as the SECURE 2.0 Act and its effect on retirement planning.
Depending on the features you prioritize, financial planning software for advisors can help you better target your business to attract new clients. For example, you might decide to focus on tax or estate planning, which can help you narrow down your ideal client base, allowing you to market to them more effectively.
Finally, financial planning software helps alleviate time-consuming back-office work for you and your team. Technology can give you more time by automating manual tasks to provide space for more satisfying client interactions. You can do more with less – which is growing more important as you manage your business.
Capabilities of Financial Planning Software for Advisors
It’s easy to get into a “Coke vs. Pepsi” mind frame when looking at the features and benefits of various products, but the decision you ultimately make will depend on your clients and your office life cycle.
Some factors to consider are:
- Comprehensiveness and depth. Does the software include all the planning areas that are important to you, and how deep does it go in your firm’s key areas?
- Technical accuracy. Does it have robust controls to make sure the plan you’re presenting meets all compliance requirements?
- Integration with CRM. Does it allow you to work from one system, so you know your data is clean and provides an accurate and holistic view of your clients?
- Features updates. Does the vendor appear to regularly introduce fresh innovations and react quickly to new regulations by offering accurate and comprehensive updates?
Prioritize Ease of Use and User Experience
The most critical feature you’ll need to consider is the experience – both yours and that of your clients.
You want to look for a system that’s intuitive and flows well to help you understand where you are in a process from start to finish. Because the software can be complex, look for an interface that offers explanatory buttons next to the various fields so you know you’re initiating the right actions. Two popular choices, eMoney and MoneyGuide, perform well here. You also want the navigation to be clean so you can confidently present and share information when you’re meeting with a client in person or on a video call.
On the client side, they desire access to their financial plan, and establishing a collaborative environment is a prime way to create trust. You want to confirm the system you choose is intuitive for them to log into, add accounts and make other updates. The goal is to avoid the “shoebox” approach, a labor-intensive process where a client provides paper statements, which the advisor must then manually enter into their financial planning platform.
Selecting a Financial Planning Software
Given that there are virtually hundreds of options for financial planning software for advisors, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the shopping journey, and your initial research might leave you with more questions than answers.
It’s easy to become distracted by shiny bells and whistles that sound appealing, but not every software will align with your goals. That’s why your first step should be to start internally: Reflect on your needs and create a wish list of the features that will support your office of the future so you know what specializations would benefit you.
Then start your research with the products that meet those needs. Read reviews and take advantage of the robust sales demonstrations many offer to try things out. Don’t rush the shopping process.
While it’s hard to ballpark a cost, given that your software needs will be affected by the makeup of your office and the specializations you offer, revisit that wish list and allocate your budget to the functions that will be most valuable to you.
However, as mentioned above, if there’s one area where you should splurge, it should be on a product that’s easy for you to use and will integrate into your office seamlessly.
When it comes to data gathering, the primary challenge that financial advisors face is that the data often needs to go into multiple systems, including general client data into a CRM, planning-specific data into financial planning software, and onboarding-specific data. To avoid the swivel chair, they should consider technology that allows them to integrate data that’s considered foundational to their financial planning practices.
The value of your time is the most important “cost,” so avoid a heavy lift in onboarding and training and verify you won’t need to enter the same data multiple times in multiple places. If you’re not using the system effectively, it’s not worth any price you paid.
While adding financial planning software can ultimately help your firm grow, consider how it will affect your operations in the interim as you transition. It’s key to consider the staffing that will be required to support the initial integration and migrate information back and forth.
Financial Planning Software as a Competitive Advantage
Financial planning software for advisors offers a host of ways to optimize your firm’s processes, streamline your business and build better engagement with clients. Depending on your clientele, it could even be something that’s expected, given that many younger demographics are likely to desire the ability to interface with you and conduct planning activities online.
On the other hand, remember the platform could appear intimidating to a certain subset. You’ll want to have backup plans in place for clients who prefer a less technology-driven approach.
While an element of self-service can save you time and prevent errors, it can also open doors to new opportunities to make recommendations as clients interact with their plan. You want your clients to dream and give you the keys to help them realize those lofty ambitions.
Financial planning software for financial advisors allows you to provide a more engaging and interactive experience for your clients, removing much of the routine, administrative work so you can apply your expertise to more rewarding, value-added functions.
The right technology can enhance your processes, allowing you to better engage with clients, build stronger relationships and increase their satisfaction.
Do you have questions about technology or other support functions? For more information on how Carson can help your firm in this area, download our partnership guide.