The way investment platforms and life offices are rolling out changes to technology has been subtly changing over the last few years.
More and more companies are delivering enhancements using agile methodology, which means small changes happen frequently, rather than the big bang approach that tends to accompany more traditional “waterfall” development.
This enables companies to be far more responsive to the feedback they get from users and means changes get delivered faster than traditional processes, where major changes are made, but it can then take ages to address any tweaks or [implement any] fixes.
A good example of how this can work well is the most recent changes to the way the 7Imagine app from Seven Investment Management (7IM) treats state pensions.
7IM tells me an increasing number of advisers want the ability to be able to model the impact in the event the government chooses to remove the triple lock on state pension.
With the latest release, advisers can also now model for both the client and any partner receiving either the full state pension, a percentage of, or none at all.
While we may bemoan the state pension, the reality is if it were removed, significant additional saving would be needed to replace it. This can now be easily assessed using the 'my future' feature.
Like any good modelling tool, this feature includes the ability to change a wide range of the default assumptions to allow for varying inflation rates, spending habits and other variables, so this is a useful feature.
Users can be bullish or conservative, selecting from a vast array of different personal circumstances in the future.
While this is standard fare from a growing number of paid-for cash flow tools, like Cashcalc, i4C, Voyant and Prestwood, some of which will, to be fair, drill down into even more detail, 7Imagine comes as part of the standard proposition available to all 7IM customers.
Since it was first launched, 7Imagine has consistently delivered a customer experience far beyond anything similar from other platforms and asset managers.
Year in, year out, 7IM keeps extending and evolving the service to ensure it is the standard to which all its peers should aspire to.
The 'my future' features, which provide a level of planning capability that might normally be associated with paid-for, stand-alone tools, but wrapped into a sublime user interface, demonstrates that it is possible to present dry financial planning subjects and analysis in ways that are visually engaging.
One day all software for advisers and their clients will be this appealing.
Ian McKenna is founder and director of F&TRC