Financial Planning & Technology – 4th Generation Planner’s Perspective
Like all new business owners, I wanted to make a dent in the universe. Or more precisely the financial planning industry. I had been a financial adviser for over 10 years and over that time I had witnessed an industry that promised so much, but systematically failed to deliver.
We can’t blame the ‘old guard’ for creating a fundamentally floored industry. Rather we can recognise that financial planning is maturing. The first industry bodies for Australian financial planners were formed in the early 1980’s, some 50 years after the legal and accounting fraternities (The Law Council of Australia was formed in 1933 and the Institute of Chartered Accountant was formed in 1928).
During the maturational process, financial planning has suffered its fair share of growing pains and teenage indiscretions. Thankfully it is emerging, ever so slowly, as a well adjusted young adult. This topic was recently covered by industry champion and thought leader, Jim Stackpool, in a blog entitled: “Is the new generation of advice emerging?”
For most of its young life, financial planning had been about access to financial products. We have to remember that before the advent of computers and the internet, there was no online stockbroking and there were no comparison websites. Everything had to be done face to face, over the phone and via physical applications delivered by the only postal service available, Australia Post.
The banks recognised the potential profits involved in providing access to financial products and set about developing a model for ‘product distribution’. The early adopters set out to sell newer style financial products, such as life insurance and managed funds, to their traditional banking customers. To sell these products the banks hired savvy sales people, which they called financial planners. The only way to encourage successful sales people to join this fledgling new industry was to pay them handsomely with commissions.
Fast forward to 2015 and it has been demonstrated time and time again that commissions not only result in a poor alignment of interests between ‘trusted’ advisers and trusting clients but also create a myriad of unintended consequences, culminating in the largest economic downturn since The Great Depression.
It is against this backdrop, that we are starting to witness some green shoots emerge in the financial advice industry. The new advice entrepreneurs, dream of a world where financial security amongst individuals is the norm not the exception. To achieve this lofty ambition they recognise the need for great systems, technological innovation and plenty of hard work.
As a ‘real world’ adviser I am thoroughly encouraged by the visions and aspirations of ‘robo advisors’. After all anything that can encourage more Australians to engage with, and take ownership of, their personal finances can only be a good thing. Estimates suggest that only 2.5 million Australian’s have financial advisers, so there is plenty of scope for growth from tradition and ‘not so’ traditional advice services.
The common theme amongst all financial advice entrepreneurs is that to do great work, you need great systems. My business, JAS Wealth, is more on the traditional ‘face to face’ spectrum of the new advice offering.
There is no doubt that these systems have enabled us to keep our business costs down. We have been able to pass on the savings we have realised to our clients in the form of lower fees. Lower fixed costs also mean that we can focus on doing great work for clients, rather than marginal ‘product distribution’ style deals to pay our bills.
Here are some of the systems we are using at the moment:
Google Apps for Work: Forget expensive internal IT systems, just use the tried and tested services from Google, for work.
Boomerang for Gmail: The best way to manage and follow up your emails. As a business owner you can often forget that email is a tool for communication, not a to do list.
Xero: Xero has been the biggest game changer in running a small business. When I first started, I didn’t use Xero and looking back now I don’t know how I managed without it.
AdviserLogic: I recently signed up for AdviserLogic which has been a breath of fresh air. This is a financial planning tool built on top of a CRM. It is intuitive, functional and user friendly. I think it is the best system in the market for the new generation of boutique advisers.
Upwork, Fiver, Elance: I often use freelancers for non-client work such as graphic design, websites and social media. There are some world class freelancers out there who are crying out for your work.
Docusign: I use this tool where possible to get e-signatures for clients. My dream is a paperless office.
TimeTrade: A great way to share your available appointment times with clients. This hooks directly into Google Calendar.
Rapportive for Gmail: Wouldn’t it be nice to view and email contacts linkedin profile and connect with them all through your email browser. With rapportive you can.
I am excited to be part of this industry and look forward to further developments in systems, service offerings and the financial advice proposition. I hope this provided a little insight into the financial advice industry and the exciting developments ahead.
About The Wealth Guy
Joshua Stega is an expert financial adviser, founder of JAS Wealth in Sydney and blogs as The Wealth Guy. He specialises in the habits and behaviours of wealth. Joshua has a Masters in Taxation and Financial Planning and has been an adviser for over 10 years.
M.TaxFP, LLB(Hons), B.Bus(Acc), FTI, Adv.DipFP, Dip.FP, SMSF Specialist