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Maximizing Adoption of Planning Technology
• Connor Sung • May 14, 2021
In 2020 financial professionals and consumers across the country were forced to conduct all facets of work and life at home, making it a watershed year for accelerating digital transformation and adoption. As financial services firms look to 2021 and beyond, the focus remains on how using technology can yield better business efficiencies and client engagement with planning.
To borrow from American author Zig Ziglar, “It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you use that makes a difference.” That is to say that while firms may be investing in resources that empower their advisors to do more financial planning, they need to prioritize adoption of those resources to have an impact.
If your firm has already invested in financial planning software, that is step one of staying competitive within the industry. Encouraging advisor adoption and long-term use of planning technology is the pivotal next step in realizing the full value.
Bridging the Opportunity with Your Reality
Financial services firms understand that leveraging planning technology can lead to revenue growth, business efficiency, and increased client engagement. But firms must do the work to define and endorse the market opportunity with their financial professionals.
It starts with leadership committing to the resource investment, but also setting a cultural tone of planning over product. More importantly, you must communicate the vision and establish the criteria for success. With an understanding of the goals of your program—deliver more plans to more clients, increase assets under management, specialize the skills of your firm—you can then develop a more detailed process for your firm to get there.
A common metric to measure advisor uptake of planning, and the technology available to them, is the number of plans being created across their book of business. To get meaningful insight, firms should define what constitutes an “active” financial plan or planning relationship. We refer to active plans as those generating activity: transactions, new assets under management, engagement from the client via a client portal or site.
Some planning solutions today provide oversight features so that the home office can manage users and monitor activity. Having specific metrics or a dashboard of user analytics can help you uncover deep insights to drive better business decisions and be responsive in your technology rollout.
Advisors who understand the opportunity that planning presents and how planning tools will help them realize their goals will adopt. Leadership and home offices have a key role to play in facilitating the transition and setting the financial advisors up for success.
The Setup Makes a Difference
To best position your firm for adoption success, configuration and software integrations can also make a significant difference. Aggregating data, assigning billing, or accessing a client record in one click from your centralized platform, all these activities are possible with the right solution. Each firm needs to consider what will best support them and their existing technology ecosystem.
Clients I’ve worked with in the past take the time to evaluate their advisor tech stack and set up integrations that sync with centralized systems like a CRM, performance reporting, or other key software. Others prefer to assess their needs through the lens of the advisor workflow. This helps them understand what efficiencies can be gained and how to improve the advisor’s productivity.
Whichever evaluation method you take, implement the software modules and tools that support your service model to work smarter, not harder. Creating a planning setup that is easy to navigate and a seamless experience alongside your other technology can help to maximize adoption.
Training and Support Matter Too
Let’s face it, learning something new can be viewed as a challenge. But it is a lot less intimidating if your financial professionals feel supported in the effort. Here are a few components to consider in your training and adoption program:
- Cover all your bases. It’s a good idea for firms to offer a consistent schedule of education opportunities, beginning with the fundamentals and core competencies. A variety of tutorials and hands-on sessions, along with individual and team sessions, can help your users build proficiency.
- Model the solution. Consider building out demo clients in the planning technology that can be leveraged across your firm for training, but also to engage in business development activity. Putting together “ideal” or target market clients for your demonstrations will help your advisors embrace the use of technology and practice the pitch for planning.
- Leverage advocacy and partnerships. Who on the leadership team, senior partners, or consultants to your business can you call upon? Experts in the field have access to a bank of institutional knowledge. Leverage those that may be able to assess your specific training requirements and create a custom curriculum.
Provide enough training and instruction to ensure your team successfully adopts key prioritized solutions. Use ongoing engagement techniques to help keep technology learning top of mind. Any early successes can build momentum for firmwide adoption.
Getting the Most out of Your Planning Technology
With my experience collaborating with back offices, I know that simply supplying the platform isn’t enough to realize adoption. Advisor pain points can and do emerge, namely, insufficient time to learn and implement new technology, and a lack of direction.
Watch the webinar below for a look at a phased approach for advisor adoption and see how your firm can scale the use and value of financial planning technology.
DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.
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