High-Tech Tools Can Lead To High-Touch Practices


By Christopher Robbins/FA-mag.com

If advisors want to increase the human element of their practices, they might have to automate more of their processes, according to Oaks, Pa.-based SEI Advisor Network.

In a recent white paper, “The Next Wave of Advice Management,” SEI’s authors outline the collaborative, digitally enabled future of financial planning.

Co-planning is becoming more popular as the financial services industry moves from an advisors- and product-focused model into a client-centric world where the client demands advice at a specific scope and tailored to their specific needs, said John Anderson, SEI’s head of practice management.

“Financial planning has moved beyond holistic advice. Advisory firms today are offering a wide range of approaches to their clients,” Anderson said. “Advisors can now automate their procedures with technology and repeatable processes and still deliver customized solutions to their clients.”

Yet only 41 percent of financial advisor surveyed by SEI view financial planning as their core value proposition, and one in four identified explaining the value of a financial plan as a challenge.

The solution Anderson and SEI present is the “techno-advisor,” a human-digital hybrid that automates and scales while preserving the relationsip between planner and client.

But advisors may not know how to implement technology to facilitate financial planning. More than a quarter of the advisors in SEI’s survey said that they struggle to find the right technology to collaborate with their clients.

To enable more opportunities for financial planning, SEI advocates for advisors to create workflow processes to guide the way they work with clients.

A workflow process does not stand in the way of personalization, said Anderson, but makes room for advisors and clients to craft customized plans – and it frees up more client-facing time for advisors. SEI partnered with ActiFi to study the performance of 46 advisory firms implementing different workflows over a period of more than two years.

Workflows enable the delivery of financial plans. Before automation, the firms in the SEI/ActiFi analysis said that 35 percent of their clients received financial planning. After automation, the advisory practices said that 58 percent of their clients were receiving financial plans…

Full Story at FA-mag.com