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The role of technology to support financial planning

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With the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent shutdowns, the use of digital tools for business operations accelerated the move towards more robust technologically based operating models.

This acceleration has highlighted the value and importance of using tech-enabled tools while striking a balance with “a personal touch”. The pandemic has highlighted new ways of working and maintaining relationships in the financial planning space. The new way is ‘a hybrid way’ – and it’s here to stay.

DIGITISED services are the new way of doing business

“Digitising services to clients is a great opportunity for the financial services industry. By riding the wave of technological enhancements, financial advisers have a fantastic opportunity to shape the way future of financial planning,” says Discovery’s Head of Retail Distribution, Callie Nel.

“Technology has immense benefits which financial advisers can benefit from. These include the convenience of automation tools, and the opportunity to more effectively engage with clients in order to help them commit to their financial goals,” he adds.

“There’s a view that ‘financial planning is a process, not a product’ – And the design of most technological tools is very much built for the process. It’s a journey to achieve better business growth and change people’s lives in all the ways they need,” Nel explains further. 

6 ways technology is a game-changer for financial planning

  1. It’s “always-on” – Tech tools and platforms are accessible round the clock and designed to be easy, forthcoming, and convenient.
  2. It’s designed to build relationships – The adviser and client can benefit from a more engaged and meaningful advice process because of quicker, automated task processes in much quicker time periods.
  3. It helps quantify and simplify outcomes in tangible ways – Advisers can cut through difficult to understand jargon and easily show the value – often in easier to consume formats (e.g., visuals).
  4. It enables improved accuracy with both speed and efficiency – This helps to improve client experiences and outcomes. It also gives back time to both adviser and client, which is becoming a rare commodity in general.
  5. It enables administration and compliance relief – Ease of access for advisers in one place.
  6. It provides efficient outcome tracking – This enables advisers to take action quicker in bolstering the plans of their clients, especially if they have an investment portfolio.

What role does technology play in the financial planning process?

More than ever, taking out insurance cover or making an investment with (excuse the pun), ‘virtually’ no physical contact with a financial planner whatsover is now fairly commonplace.

The role that technology can play, however, is not entirely reliant on digitally-driven service platforms, products or even the advice process itself – or independently of one another. It is however, changing the landscape of what potential and existing clients want. It’s enabling an improved end-to-end process for advisers to be able to (more than) sufficiently provide it.

  • Technology offers convenient access to product information and content – especially through web applications and mobile devices
  • Technology is continually increasing its services suites by offering a range of helpful tools to better support budgeting, calculating investment risk, aggregating products and making package or plan comparisons with absolute ease.
  • Technology can help to simplify product information, as well as offer tailorable amendments to individual policies.
  • Technology can help to reduce planning time; as well as offer dynamic reporting functionality (at multiple levels), close to real-time data sharing capabilities, a single version of accurate data / insights and help to enhance decision-making processes in less admin-heavy ways.

The “human side” still needs to support the function of tech tools

“Technology has also given consumers an opportunity to take control of their finances in more ways than ever before,” says Nel. “There is so much information available and this can put consumers in a somewhat risky position.”

“It is our view that consumers with financial advisers are far better off than those without – for the simple reason that financial planning is about far more than what you can find online by yourself. Financial advice also entails the implications of taxation, efficient estate planning and an informed approach to proper risk taking concerning investment portfolios,” he adds. “Clients who work closely alongside a financial adviser oftentimes end up with better cover for the same premium than those who do not use one.”

“Although parts of financial services are becoming more automated, astute human-to-human advice is still very much an integral part of the process. The development of a financial plan remains a very personal journey for people. Technology merely supports that in enhanced ways.”

 

“Advisers play a critical role in keeping the financial planning process humanised, while also making use of the intricate benefits that technology can offer.Tech effectvely supports, simplifies and creates efficiency for this industry. It complements the process, especially as we move through the 4th Industrial Revolution and beyond,” he concludes.