Bringing Future to the Present with technology in Financial Planning
Is Technology the Future of Financial Planning?
The main job of a financial advisor is to give financial advice to clients and traditionally, most of the advisory process happened face-to-face. But the world has come to a point where meeting a person face to face has become a risk for health. With the fast-moving world, answers are expected immediately. Well, nothing is impossible with technology! Technology is evolving everything we do in a very faster phase and it has affected the financial planning process very much especially after the pandemic effects.
1. Virtual Meetings
With the pandemic disruptions, offices had to shut down. Employees, had to work remotely when the offices were closed. Financial planners took the use of technology to communicate more often and more intimately with clients during this period of anxiety. Although it was not similar to the traditional face-face meetups, the handheld devices, better technology helped to give better customer service. Virtual technologies like Zoom, Microsoft Teams were used more frequently.
2. Obstacles in the Virtual Journey
However, it was not easy to adapt to virtual meetings at the beginning. Initially, there were numerous errors due to connection problems, calls getting shut down after half an hour. But with better routers, advisory firms started giving necessary equipment to employees to use at home. Corporate Zoom accounts resolved many technology issues. Also, there have been issues with adjusting the clients to the new advisory platforms particularly with older clients who were used to more face-to-face advising. Various steps were taken to give pre-calls and sample virtual meetings to get the clients adjusted to the new environment. Another issue that came up was the security threats with clients and employees using many networks. This was creating a big negative impact as the financial data shared during these meetings were mostly confidential. Firms started to use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to resolve this issue. Also, enabling secure e-document sharing, electronic signature processing has been used.
3. Mobile Apps & Robo Advisors
The way people access information has radically changed. It is said that mobile has already replaced, calendar, alarm, diary, camera, and even social relationships. The rise of mobile usage is a key technological trend affecting financial planning. Mobile apps and Robo advisors which have digital platforms provide automates, algorithm-driven financial planning services with little human supervision. ‘Equipsuper’ is a good example of an AI app used in the Australian superannuation industry. These apps collect financial information and future goals from clients on their financial situation to use for financial planning. The apps offer financial advice and give options to invest. These apps are becoming highly popular with robust goal planning, portfolio management, attentive customer services, low fees, detailed advice provided, and security features. Digital payment methods like Apple pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Square Register, Woolworths Money and After Pay have shaped digital payments through these apps more secure and reliable. Another reason for these apps to become widely used is the less costs involved. There will be zero-cost brokerages, fewer trade commissions, etc. The trend towards lower costs can shape the marketplace with the balance of power towards the customer.
4. Financial Planning Software
Financial Planning Software was not a new technological angle to the financial planning industry. It has been there for years, but the re-emergence of financial planning software has become more popular over the past few years. According to the survey conducted by the T3 Consulting Services in 2020, 64% (5,500) of respondents have proven that they are using financial planning software to take decisions. This software is used to calculate present values of payouts and future income streams, assess various social security filing strategies, identify the health of future projects, determine debt management options, portfolio management, and tax planning. Assumptions on Risk tolerance levels, potential returns from each investment are embedded in these kinds of software to give accurate suggestions to the clients. Risk management approaches like behavioral algorithms, predictive analytics are also embedded to give a real-time analysis of transactions and thereby increase customer satisfaction and decrease streamline costs.
To minimize the complex regulatory compliances, various software has been introduced. These kinds of software reduce traditional manual and costly compliance review processes where there is much paper-based work, multiple document checks, and checklists to be completed. They assist financial planners in reducing all the time-consuming regulatory review activities.
5. APIs and Cloud Platforms
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are identified as ‘plug and cable’ technology. These platforms enable various programs to link with each other and to share data between the systems. Cloud enables to save data that can be accessed anytime and shared easily. With this tool financial planners can offer a more seamless customer experience by combining the existing platforms with external plugs to give more customized services to the clients.
6. Inhale the Future & Exhale the Past
Just like iPod stores 1,000 songs that can be kept in a pocket, technology has the potential to deliver an entire suite of financial services to clients through mobile apps, web-based virtual platforms, and software that people can use anywhere and anytime. It is assumed that Tech budgets will continue to grow for the financial planning firms. Future lies with the technology mainly because millennials demand faster and more efficient services driven by new technologies. According to the surveys conducted during 2020 nearly 40% of the financial institutions are looking into making digital improvements to their business and as a result, the future of financial planning is going to be more personal and customized. Financial planners are expected to focus more on wider details. Advisors will have to help clients with a whole spectrum of requirements and objectives with the use of the technology. The Financial planning companies who will succeed in the future will be the ones who think of technology as the chance to nurture client relationships and improve their financial services.