By Autumn K. Campbell
It is important that financial planning firms are up to date on current technology tools to improve accuracy and efficiency so they can focus on what helps clients change behavior most - involvement, connection, and trust.
The quicker the speed in which we can gather and aggregate data to inform behavior, the more time advisers can spend with their clients helping them to make informed, confidant decisions.
Some tools have been included below as suggestions for firms to explore. This list is by no means comprehensive, but we hope it can provide exposure to new ways to go about workflows within the business:
TextExpander: This nifty tech tools allows you to create shortcodes for repeatedly typed messages, called “snippets”. This can vary from smaller phrases, to links, to how-to instructions, to multi-paragraph explanations. We love this tool because it is not limited to any application and can be used in email, Microsoft Word, Mac Pages, Slack, or any other place you find yourself typing! You can also download groups that autocorrect your spelling if you mistype some of the most commonly mistyped words! For those who enjoy details, TextExpander will even send you a regular report of how much time you saved by using your snippets!
Video conferencing platform for live meetings: Not only do platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting provide a video option for meetings, but they also provide a space for you to wait until your guest arrives so that you are able to greet them the moment they hop on. These platforms can also be integrated with scheduling tools to instantly create custom meeting links auto-populated in the meeting location upon booking. Gone are the days of phone tag and 3-way calling! The zoom phone app even has a “driving mode”, that allows you to be on mute unless you tap the single large button on the screen to control outside noise a bit better when listening in the conversation.
Calendar Scheduler (Calendly, ScheduleOnce): Having your calendar available for clients to be able to book when works for them can save so much time of might have otherwise been spent on the phone or via email. They can book meetings based on meeting type which you can preset to accommodate your location options, travel time (if needed), minimum advance booking notice, and even can cap once you’ve met a certain number of meetings in a day. If you have a dream of a specific structure for your days, a calendar scheduler could be a perfect tool for you!
Soft phone: Many advisors have forgone the desk phone and moved to a soft phone through companies such as Line 2 which functions through an app that can be on your computer and/or cell phone. The app is completely customizable, and you get set rules regarding hours, and alerts that push through to you for various groups of callers such as team, client, and non-client numbers. The automatic voicemail transcription option is also clutch for the busy advisor on the go that cannot pick up a phone call but can read a message to decide what the next steps are.
Document storage with direct client uploading, such as Sharefile or Dropbox: When clients upload directly to a shared team folder there is no lag in access to documents and even if a teammate is out, documents can be processed just the same. Gone are the days of a client documents being stuck in another teammate’s email. Folder systems can also be set so that clients can upload and download documents, but only firm employees are able to move, edit and delete. This maintains control of the folder structure, while allows for a client portal of all the shared documentation between your team and a client.
Alert settings: With all these integration options, some advisors wonder how to “turn it off” and maintain desired boundaries between work and other parts of their lives. Fortunately, this is all possible. Most tech tools will have customizable settings for your to structure however you would like. You don’t want a client to be able to self-book without 2 weeks lead time? Sure thing! Would you prefer for your phone to go straight another teammate or to voicemail to create a transcription on Project Tuesdays until you check your messages at 12pm? No problem!
How about a desire to keep a human touch when meetings are booked? You can create custom emails that pull client-specific data as well such as their greeting name that may be different than their legal name. You can even create codes with clients so that priority messages push through to a special folder.
For example, if a client puts "priority" in subject line, messages that might otherwise go to your regular inbox automatically get pushed to your priority folder and sends you a push notification. Settings are always a work in progress, so as long as you are willing to learn and tweak over time to fit your workstyle, my hope is that you will have more consistency to your workflows and hope time to do the things humans do best.
Another resource to check out regarding technology is the “You’re a Financial Planner, Now What?” podcast fintech episodes that came out this month.
We realize that this list is in no way comprehensive, but hope this provided some ideas and context for your workflows. We would also love to hear from you - what are some of your favorite tech tools?
Autumn K. Campbell, CFP®, is a Pacific-Northwest native who now resides in Tulsa, OK after a few years as a teacher and counselor in Dallas followed by a financial planning residency in New Orleans. She is a financial planner and the Tulsa office lead at The Planning Center, a fee-only RIA. Autumn is an active alumni of Teach For America and member of Junior League. For social activities, she loves sports such as triathlons, flag football, rugby, weight-lifting and obstacle courses racing and is a strategy board game enthusiast.
FPA NexGen, a community of the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®), aims to provide support and collaboration for those professionals new to the financial planning profession. With more than 2,500 like-minded young professionals, members of FPA NexGen are ready to share their experiences and further the future of the financial planning profession. Learn more about our engaged community and join the conversation on Twitter.