By Autumn K. Campbell
It’s important for financial planning firms to be up to date on current technology tools to improve accuracy and efficiency so they can focus on what helps clients change behavior the most: engagement, connection and trust.
The faster the speed at which we can collect and aggregate data to inform behavior, the more time advisors can spend with their clients to help them make informed and confidential decisions.
Some tools have been included below as suggestions for businesses to explore. This list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope it can provide exposure to new ways of approaching workflows within the company:
TextExpander: This nifty tech tool lets you create shortcodes for repeatedly typed messages, called “snippets.” It can vary from small sentences, links, practical instructions, explanations in several paragraphs. We love this tool because it’s not limited to one app and can be used in email, Microsoft Word, Mac Pages, Slack, or anywhere else you find yourself typing! You can also download groups that automatically correct your spelling if you mistype some of the most commonly misspelled words! For those who like the details, TextExpander will even send you a regular report on how much time you’ve saved using your snippets!
Video conferencing platform for live meetings: Not only do platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting offer a video option for meetings, but they also give you a space to wait for your guest to arrive so you can greet them as soon as they come up. These platforms can also be integrated with scheduling tools to instantly create custom meeting links that automatically populate into the meeting location upon booking. Gone are the days of phone tags and 3-way calls! The zoom phone app even has a “driving mode”, which allows you to be muted unless you press the single large button on the screen to control outside noise a little better when you listen to the conversation.
Calendar scheduler (Calendly, ScheduleOnce): Having your calendar available for customers to book when it suits them can save them a lot of time that would otherwise have been spent on the phone or email. They can book meetings based on meeting type which you can pre-set to account for your location options, travel time (if required), minimum booking notice and even can cap once you have met a number of meetings in one day. If you crave a specific structure for your days, a calendar planner might be the perfect tool for you!
Softphone: Many advisors have ditched the desk phone and switched to a softphone through companies like Line 2, which work through an app that can be installed on your computer and/or mobile phone. The app is fully customizable and you get set rules regarding hours and alerts given to you for different groups of callers such as team, customer and non-customer numbers. The automatic voicemail transcription option is also useful for the busy advisor on the go who cannot answer a phone call but can read a message to decide on next steps.
Document storage with direct client upload, such as Sharefile or Dropbox: When clients upload directly to a shared team folder, there is no lag in accessing documents and even if a teammate is away, documents can be treated the same. Gone are the days of one client’s documents getting stuck in another teammate’s email. Folder systems can also be set up so customers can upload and download documents, but only company employees can move, edit, and delete. This keeps control of the folder structure, while allowing a client portal of all documentation shared between your team and a client.
Alert settings: With all of these integration options, some counselors wonder how to “turn it off” and maintain the desired boundaries between work and other aspects of their lives. Fortunately, all of this is possible. Most tech tools will have customizable settings so you can structure the way you want. You don’t want a customer to be able to book themselves without a 2-week delay? Sure thing! Would you rather have your phone go straight to another teammate or to voicemail to create a transcript on project Tuesdays until you check your messages at noon? No problem!
How about a desire to keep a human touch when meetings are booked? You can create personalized emails that pull customer-specific data along with their salutation name which can be different from their legal name. You can even create codes with customers so that priority messages go to a special folder.
For example, if a customer puts “priority” in the subject line, messages that might otherwise arrive in your regular inbox are automatically pushed to your priority folder and send you a push notification. Settings are always a work in progress, so as long as you’re willing to learn and adjust over time to fit your work style, hopefully you’ll have more consistency in your workflows and you will have time to do what humans do best.
Another technology-related resource to check out is “You’re a Financial Planner, Now What?” fintech podcast episodes that came out this month.
We realize that this list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope it has provided you with ideas and context for your workflows. We’d also love to hear from you – what are some of your favorite tech tools?
Autumn K. Campbell, CFP®, is originally from the Pacific Northwest and now resides in Tulsa, OK, after a few years as a teacher and counselor in Dallas, followed by a financial planning residency in New Orleans . She is a financial planner and manager of the Tulsa office at the Planning Center, a fee-based RIA. Autumn is an active Teach For America alumnus and Junior League member. For social activities, she enjoys sports such as triathlons, flag football, rugby, weightlifting and obstacle courses and is an avid strategy gamer.
FPA NexGen, a community of the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®), aims to provide support and collaboration to new financial planning professionals. With over 2,500 like-minded young professionals, FPA NexGen members are ready to share their experiences and advance the future of the financial planning profession. Learn more about our engaged community and join the conversation at Twitter.