Advisers should be cautious when it comes to mass communication

Less is more

With great power comes, you know, the other thing, and if I can set a theme for 2017 as a result of this ramble, it’s this. Just because you can build something, doesn’t mean you should. 

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Just because you have the tools to send out regular communications to clients, doesn’t mean that you should. Just because you can integrate a Reuters financial newsfeed into your homepage, doesn’t mean that you should. (It’s amazing how many firms do this, even ones who say they coach clients not to worry about the vagaries of the stockmarket.)

I think I have written here before about the functionality arms race on the systems  advisers use. This race to say that system X does more things in more ways than system Y does more harm than good in exactly the way that advisers, or even personal finance blogs, sending out rubbish about what Japanese equities did last week, causes fatigue on the part of readers.

Plain and simple

You can help some of this with the demands you make of platforms, back office systems and the other packages you use. 

It’s helpful to be specific. For example, an adviser we talked to recently about integrations between back offices and platforms said he wanted ‘two-way integration’. What he meant was that he wanted his staff to update, say, the client’s details in the back office and have this immediately and seamlessly (or as close as possible) appear in the platform. 

This is at odds with what others want, which is the ability to fire trades or maintain model portfolios in the back office. You need to be clear on your terms.

I think this will be really important this year, as I sense already – and we’re only a few days into the year – a greater energy and hunger this year from proposition development teams in providers to get something new out there.

There has been so much grunge for these guys to deal with in terms of regulatory overhead and so on, that I think I can almost sense enthusiasm for trying to do something that people will like. Make sure to engage with your providers to drive that.

I am not sure we will see any massive technological changes that will really make a difference to your clients in 2017. I do think there is the chance that some of the mess that has hung around for far too long in terms of client reporting, integrations, data aggregation and so on will get sorted out.