Four ways embracing fintech can enhance your business

This article first appeared on Professional Adviser

If you grew up on the great sci-fi movies and TV of the 80s and 90s, then you’ll know that the future hasn’t turned out quite as we were promised.

Financial Technology

For instance, Back to the Future: Part II (now five years in the past) promised us flying cars, hover boards and instant rehydrated pizza. Blade Runner (set in November 2019) also suggested we’d be flying to work by now, that we’d have ‘replicants’ – futuristic androids indistinct from humans – and persistently gloomy weather.

As we move into a new decade, technology continues to advance at pace. Just ten years ago we didn’t have smartwatches, virtual assistants, self-driving cars or even Netflix streaming. Who knows what innovations might arrive in the next ten years?

As a financial planner, it’s understandable to be wary of the technological advances impacting our profession. However, it’s those who embrace change that are likely to be the most successful in the long-term.

How are financial advisers and planners using fintech?

Financial Technology

Source: 2019 Independent Adviser Outlook Study from Schwab Advisor Services

A 2019 study of financial advisers found that the most common reason for investing in fintech was to increase the ability to serve more clients, with more than a third (38%) of advisers citing this reason.

One in five (20%) of advisers said they were investing in technology to reduce manual tasks in some areas, while 17% said they wanted to automate certain functions so that their employees could get on with higher-value work.

Though some advisers fear increased competition when it comes to technology – that they might be replaced by automated online platforms offering robo-advice, for example – others have seen the profound impact digital advances can in fact have on their businesses.

So how can fin-tech help you? Below are four key ways it can transform your way of working.

  1. Improving client service

One of the main benefits of fintech is that it enables certain financial services tasks to be automated. For advisers, this means that software can carry out ‘mundane’ exercises such as portfolio rebalancing and data aggregation, as well keeping tabs on each client’s situation.

As an example, products such as SimplyBiz tech Centra offer financial planning tools, product research, suitability reports and a centralised investment process.

Elsewhere, technology that undertakes functions such as risk profiling, investment analysis and product research now allows advisers to deliver accurate, up-to-date and efficient advice to clients.

Less time crunching numbers and poring over spreadsheets means you have more time to discuss the ‘softer’ elements of a client’s position, from their work/life balance and health, to their family and life goals.

  1. Easier meetings

In a 2018 survey of US-based financial advisers, 73% of financial planners said they preferred communicating with their clients and prospects on a face-to-face basis.

However, with the same survey finding that planners expect the frequency of communication with clients to increase over the next five to ten years, it’s worth considering video options like Skype and FaceTime.

Video meetings help you schedule more reviews with clients and reduces travelling. Not only does this save you time, it also has environmental benefits.

  1. More efficient business

‘Basic’ skills such as recording information and ‘repetitive skills’ such as monitoring and scheduling are all likely be impacted by technology, according to 2018 Vanguard study.

If you want to automate and organise certain aspects of your business, back office systems – such as Intelligent Office – can be a good way of managing client information and income reconciliation, in turn driving business efficiency.

  1. Meeting regulatory requirements

There are new systems that can help firms to comply with regulatory changes, for example by documenting the advice process in a clearly auditable way. Aside from making it easier to demonstrate compliance, this method can be much less-onerous than a paper-based process.

Elsewhere, there are tools to help with GDPR compliance too. Programmes like Intelligent Office allow you exchange messages with clients in a secure environment, in turn helping you stay on the right side of the law.

Technology is here to stay, so make sure you embrace the potential opportunities and invest appropriately in the systems your business needs to stay ahead of the game.