Technology is an inescapable part of all our lives, not least in financial advisers' professional activities. Most have become accustomed to using a platform of some kind to reconcile their clients' portfolios in one place and to provide an instant answer on where they stand.
But back-office systems have been evolving over the past few years to make the process of customer relationship management more efficient and effective. Now there are seamless connections between an adviser's portfolio and the provider's systems, so that a client can instantly see how their policy is standing.
While some claim that this side of the advice process might not be as efficient as in other industries, the back-office systems available have made the more pedestrian side of financial advice – processing remuneration and generating suitability letters, for example – much more manageable.
Platform technology has evolved over the past few years, but some suggest that the latest innovations, such as extra tooling – capital gains tax calculators for example – have not been as appealing to customers as they might have liked.
Other things seems to be more important, such as the ability to include gains and losses from assets held off-platform. Some platforms have found that what clients actually want is something that makes their portfolios more accessible. Platforms have been developing apps, so that in an easily digestible form clients can see where they stand and get an instant snapshot of the geographical mix of assets, among other things. As Verona Smith of Seven Investment Management said, those in the investment industry forget that clients do not live and breathe investments in the same way they do.
The other big issue for advisers on the technological front is the arrival of robo-advice. As algorithms seem to be encroaching on many other areas of our lives, it was probably only a matter of time before the wealth managers devised something on the advice front. The market seems right for it – not only is the rest of our world apparently going digital but, following the RDR, many advisers have left the less affluent clients as it now no longer makes sense to advise them.
Is robo-advice the solution? Some seem to think so. Increasing numbers of advisers are queuing up to offer an automated advice service, often buying off-the-shelf, white-labelled services from a fintech business. It is important to remember that advice firms are responsible for any advice that comes from their firm, so they are advised to approach with caution.