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Out with the old, in with the new? Not just yet…

There are certainly some aspects of the financial planning industry that needs to change. Adoption of technology, provision and accuracy of data and processing times top that list for me. But we would be naïve to think there isn’t a whole lot of value in the traditional ways of planning. In fact, here we will look at a number of aspects we don’t want to change (and some tech add-ons worth thinking about).

What we want to keep:

Relationships — Your relationship with your client will last decades, longer than many marriages and certainly longer than any tech solution. Alongside this length of relationship, you will see your clients through life milestones, the good and the bad. Providing valuable financial planning is about knowing your client’s goals and objectives. So keep doing what you’re doing and put the client first.

The extra milePlanners have been known to travel across the country (and internationally) to visit their clients and review their circumstances. Sure this may no longer be necessary with younger clients in such a digital age, tools like zoom and whatsapp, but knowing that my adviser would travel a few hundred miles to give me comfort around my finances over a cup of tea? Priceless.

A personalised touch an incidental outcome of old ways of working is the personal touch that you receive. Some planners have had the same team and secretaries for decades (or even as long as your relationship with them lasts). Perhaps its a more expensive service, but I expect many out there prefer the personalised touch of knowing who’s on the other end of the phone. Investing in technology isn’t about replacing your team, its to utilise them where they’re most valuable — in helping clients.

What we could change:

Out with the paper clients are becoming savvier with tech and the tech is becoming more useful to advisers. As we close on reducing paper applications, its time to stop printing factfinds. If your client won’t complete it themselves online, then bring a tablet and do it for them. Paper is a thing of the past.

Automated customer services without losing the personalised touch, there are 3 tactics/tools that will enable more efficient communication with clients and free up time for more reviews and new business.

1. Regular market updates/newsletters. Seems obvious, but its amazing how many practices don’t bother. Your clients have the right to opt out if they aren’t receiving any value, but I would much prefer a snippet of what’s going on in the market from my planner rather than my faceless fund providers. Don’t have an marketing email service? Try Mailchimp (for nice branding), Hubspot (for additional CRM tools) or even your back-office provider (They were built for this after all!).

2. Customer Service software. No one wants to turn their office into a help desk, but help desks know a thing or 2 about efficiency and scale. Reminders on getting back to clients, tracking of emails containing client queries and automated touch points to keep your customers happy — sounds like a tick in the compliance box for me! Try Zendesk or Planhat.

3. Client portal. Contentious topic in the market, a portal should give client’s access to everything they need to know about their financial planning strategy and wealth profile. There are pros and cons of the portal, but ultimately, the data is the client’s data and the future of financial planning and its clients going forward is in access to information and full transparency.

Fees, charges, perception of charges to approach the new generation of clients, one thing needs to be perfectly clear, they want to know what it costs, and what they’re getting for their money. Despite regulatory change, the flexibility to charge based on the client needs creates an opaque nature to the lead on your website. Education is needed on how fees and charges work, they will help you find a more appropriate (target) customer and all in all, transparency on your website will get you more clients.