Turning advice technology noise into beautiful music

Imagine a symphony orchestra. Now imagine that every musician in every section has only cymbals.

What a mess! Woodwind section? Cymbals. Strings? Cymbals. And so on. The only section with a hope of playing their part well would be percussion. Cymbals there? Perfect!

You’d never equip an entire orchestra with just one instrument. Not even if that instrument produced the most amazing sound ever heard.

You’d never equip an entire orchestra with just one instrument. Not even if that instrument produced the most amazing sound ever heard. Sure, every player might be able to get some noise or other out of it, and they’d all be reading the same music. But for an orchestra to create anything approaching beautiful music, each section needs the right instruments.

Financial advice is no different. Practice managers need real-time reporting on pipeline, productivity and profitability. Client service staff need flexible workflow and easy access to every client interaction. Compliance need audit history and file notes. Advisers need rich integrated CRM with visibility across everything. Paraplanners need modelling and SOA generation.

You can’t force a paraplanning tool to do all of these things. But in advice businesses, that’s exactly what happens all too often.

Instead of each team getting the right instrument for their job, they’re all given the same tool and told to make the best of it.

Instead of each team getting the right instrument for their job, they’re all given the same tool and told to make the best of it. Advie tools such as COIN, XPLAN, Midwinter and others specialise in writing advice, modelling risk and generating SOAs. They’re aimed at compliance and are useful for paraplanners. Advisers constantly remind me that while advisers meet clients and give advice, it’s the paraplanners who write it.

But what about everyone else’s technology needs?

Too often, reporting is still stuck in Excel and managed manually. Workflow may be tracked in Excel too, or it’s half baked into the paraplanning system in a way that no one understands. Compliance get some audit information, but it’s nowhere near as comprehensive as it should be. And advisers have poor visibility across the whole client relationship because it’s being managed in a paraplanning tool.

I recently heard of an Australian wealth institution spending some $20m on a rollout of XPLAN to hundreds of users, the majority of whom don’t need XPLAN’s specialist features. CBA is rumoured to be investing well north of that figure and for what, an orchestra of cymbals?

Give the right tools to the right people, then pull them together onto a single platform that runs the business, with the customer at the centre of everything.

It’s time advice businesses joined other contemporary industries in taking an integrated, best-of-breed approach to technology. Give the right tools to the right people, then pull them together onto a single platform that runs the business, with the customer at the centre of everything.

It’s time for change. Let’s make some music.