Making the transition to financial planning software

September 13, 2016 by Rachel Schlawin

About the author:

Rachel Schlawin

Solutions consultant

Rachel has a background in Advicent’s Training and Business Analysis teams. She has completed all of the coursework towards her CFP and plans to do the same for the ChFC. She genuinely enjoys planning and solving complex problems with financial technology, especially NaviPlan.

The days of yellow notepad financial planning are coming to an end. For hundreds of thousands of advisors, those days ended years, if not decades, ago with the inception of financial planning software. When I say financial planning software, I do not mean Microsoft Excel, though I can see the allure of having the flexibility to illustrate calculations in a pinpointed, proprietary way. However, the problem with Excel is twofold: it is questionable whether using Excel to manipulate calculations is necessarily in strong compliance with the DOL, and creating and maintaining spreadsheets like this is time-consuming, tedious, and error prone.

I have spoken with hundreds of advisors who have made the switch to software long ago, and it is clear that they would never go back. So what are some blockers to making this shift for your own financial practice, and how can we solve for them?

Learning curve

Making a process change can be intimidating, especially considering the complexity of financial planning tools on the market. Make sure you select a provider who is actively invested in your success. In other words, you do not want to demo a product, buy it, and end the engagement there. Here at Advicent, we see our customers as partners. Onboarding them as well as providing them with the ongoing support to blast past that learning curve are key to our partners’ continued and successful utilization of the software. Our comprehensive training packages, knowledgeable support team, and wealth of in-application learning resources all contribute to this.

Software complexity

Having a comprehensive tool with the ability to handle all financial situations is extremely important. However, this too can lead to some issues with ease of use. A scalable financial planning tool like NaviPlan solves for this elegantly – by providing the advisor with simple to sophisticated analyses and the ability to include only those modules applicable to the client with whom they are currently working. Have a prospect with standard needs and don’t want to spend an hour creating a plan for someone who may not become a full-fledged client? The Forecaster Assessment takes only five minutes to complete and provides easily-consumable, professional-looking output with very little data input necessary.

Understanding value

I recently heard a quote that really resonated with me: “In the absence of value, there is only cost.” This is particularly sensitive to financial professionals who feel the burn of proving to their clients why they need to stick around, rather than switching to a robo or selecting another advisor. The value NaviPlan coupled with the Narrator Clients portal enables you to provide is enormous. From a simple needs assessment, all the way up to a full comprehensive plan with alternatives and what-if illustrations – this software can help you to not only comply with the DOL when making product recommendations, but also to make your clients a partner in their own planning process. The cost of not making the switch today could mean being left behind in an increasingly value-focused environment.