The financial advisor software landscape continues to evolve, with new digital tools hitting the market each month. With the right tech stack, you can deliver a better client experience, improve your financial recommendations and run a more efficient firm. The challenge is figuring out just what combination of software programs would best deliver this result.
Advisors who work for a major broker-dealer are usually limited to what’s allowed by their company. On the other hand, if you’re an RIA working independently, you could use any combination of software you’d like. This flexibility can be nice, but also overwhelming with hundreds of options to choose from.
As you design your tech stack, think again about what you’re trying to accomplish. Most firms are looking to handle five to six common needs.
The best software not only does a good job serving its designed purpose, but also integrates well with other software. Just like different parts of a financial plan need to coordinate, so do the different parts of your tech stack. Of course, with enough time and money invested, you can probably solve integration issues, but there are likely more cost-effective options.
As you plan out your firm’s tech stack, consider which financial advisor software fulfills your needs, integrates well with your other technologies and is user-friendly for your team.
Financial Planning Software
When comparing the two, one consideration is the type of planning you typically do. MoneyGuide is better for goal-based planning, where the client sets specific goals first, like “retire at age 60,” and then you figure out the steps they need to reach those goals. eMoney works well for cash flow-based planning, where you track all of a client’s income and spending, then design their financial plan and possible goals off that. While each software can handle both types of planning, generally those are considered their specialties.
Both programs also do an excellent job connecting with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like Salesforce, especially for workflow management. As you set up steps for your client’s financial plan, you can use these programs to create workflow steps on the CRM for other members of your team.
For example, you tell the operations person in your office to withdraw money for a client out of one of their accounts based on their plan needs. For Carson Partners, our tool called Gameplan allows you to set up these steps and workflows during a client’s annual review.
Additional Planning Software
There are several specialized advisor software options that help you go beyond general financial planning.
Carson’s tech stack includes Holistiplan, which analyzes a client’s tax return to find optimization strategies. You upload a client’s tax return, and the software will find missed tax opportunities and offer planning suggestions.
Pontera gives you the ability to manage a client’s held-away assets, such as those in a 401(k) or another workplace plan. You can pull those accounts and manage them under the same planning paradigm that you use for a client’s other investment accounts held by your firm.
Part of your fiduciary duty is to measure a client’s comfort with risk, and there is software that can help you do this easily. We use HiddenLevers (now part of Orion Risk Intelligence) for this type of analysis. Riskalyze is another popular option to measure a client’s risk tolerance.
Back-Office and Billing Software
Your back-office and billing software is the backbone of your firm, and at Carson, we use Orion. It can handle trade order management, and it allows you to make changes to multiple accounts at once, such as batch investment orders. If you’d like to offer standard investment models for clients, Orion provides a marketplace with options from a multitude of strategists.
You can also use the software for client billing, collections and payment processing. More importantly, Orion integrates well with other popular programs like MoneyGuide and Salesforce, so you can set up back-office requests through one cohesive system.
Client technology allows clients to interact with you and their financial plan. Think of it as their portal. It’s how they log in to see the documents you’ve uploaded for them, track their investment performance and monitor their accounts.
Carson has built its own client technology, called our Client Experience, which integrates with all the programs in our tech stack. If a client has one account at Fidelity and another at Schwab, they can review them in one place through Carson CX rather than logging into multiple websites.
Lastly, consider how you could handle client communication and scheduling. Phone calls and emails are fine, but you can also automate many of your manual tasks. Calendly allows clients to self-manage scheduling. Some advisors prefer communicating with BombBomb, where they can record 5-minute video emails of themselves. If you work as a team on a client’s account, 8×8 would let you connect across-the-office calls easily with others and set up group video calls.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is typically seen as a lead management tool for making sales, but that doesn’t give these platforms enough credit. Yes, they are an important part of the sales process. Through a CRM, you can set up a pipeline to track the steps where someone goes from a lead to a prospect to a first-client meeting.
However, with more powerful CRMs like Salesforce, you can expand into full workflow management. As you’re meeting with a client for an annual review, you can immediately start entering the steps for others in your office to follow up. For example, your admin should update the client’s address information if they’ve recently moved, or your paraplanner should make some new investments for the portfolio before the end of the trading day.
Carson uses Salesforce for workflow management. Redtail and Wealthbox are also popular CRMs in financial services. If you’re only interested in the sales and marketing side of a CRM, Marketing Cloud is a Salesforce product that ties directly into your CRM, HubSpot works well for lead management and simple landing pages, and Mailchimp is an easy-to-use email platform.
As you compare marketing software, consider your target demographic. What clients do you work with now and what clients do you want to work with? With that in mind, think about what tools this audience would find more appealing. Would they prefer videos from BombBomb or emails from Mailchimp?
Consider also your typical flow: How do you take someone from a lead to a prospect to a client? Then figure out what kind of experience would best achieve that.
Carson offers its own marketing financial advisor software, Carson MX. For our partners, we build SEO-driven websites that include lead-generation materials, such as calculators and downloadable resources. When a new lead comes in from the website, Carson MX triggers email journeys, automatically creates tasks in your CRM to follow up with the lead, adds them to various other email lists and monitors where they are at in the sales pipeline.
Maintaining Your Financial Advisor Software
Technology and financial advisor software never stop changing. After you build your firm’s tech stack, your work isn’t finished. You then have ongoing maintenance of all your programs to make sure they are still getting the job done. Even if everything plays together nicely today, there’s no guarantee it will tomorrow. One company could be acquired, the acquirer decides to change things up, and suddenly you lose a critical part of your integration and system.
Working with an organization that is on top of the latest trends can help you stay in sync. They can spend the time constantly comparing what’s out there to ensure you have the tech stack combination that works best for your firm and your budget.
For more information on how Carson can help your firm in this area, download our partnership guide.