Why financial advisers should use mobile apps

By Ryan Smith on May 25, 2018

Five apps to boost your productivity outside the office.

The emergence of smartphones as a business tool has been a major shift for independent financial advisers in the last ten years. As well as helping you keep in touch with the office, and letting clients know that you’re on your way, they now offer many other useful mobile apps.

Given that our lives are so app-driven – and perhaps more so than we really realise until the day we walk out the door and leave our phone on the kitchen table – it raises the question of whether we should be making more – and better – use of apps as part of our day to day business activities.

The rise of the machines

As the majority of UK adults manage their routine finances using mobile apps, the answer intuitively has to be yes. We have discussed elsewhere that personal interaction is of vital importance, and sometimes there is no substitute for sitting across a table and spending time with your clients. But on the other hand, today’s consumers want to be able to manage all aspects of their lives digitally whenever possible.

It’s a balancing act. Banks have reacted to the digital revolution by providing the app-based resources that their clients crave. But at the same time, they have faced a backlash when reducing branch opening times and replacing counter staff with machines.

So, while providing app-based services as part of wealth management will certainly appeal to both existing and potential clients, it needs to be presented as a value-added feature: one that complements traditional delivery of financial services and products.

Increased differentiation?

Of course, if there’s one thing that’s very dangerous to do in today’s business environment, it is to generalise about what customers want. The banking example above is a case in point.

Customers want mobile banking, therefore they don’t need branches’ is false logic. After the initial backlash, many high street branches are finding a solution. They’ve seen increased uptake of business and premium banking services for those who have more complex needs, requiring personal interaction on a regular basis.

A number of financial advisers and wealth management firms in the US are following a similar model by seeking to differentiate between self-serve and serviced clients. Typically, the former comprises lower value customers who might set up their financial portfolios and then do very little with them. On the other hand, there are those clients who might have a higher net worth with more complex portfolios who require a completely different approach.

The use of apps

What can using mobile apps do for you as an adviser, especially when out in the field?

  • Keep up-to-date information always at hand
  • Help with calculations on investment returns
  • Provide assistance with note-taking in meetings
  • Help with planning directions or travel plans
  • Help with diary management

Choosing the right software

Here is our take on the five mobile apps that all IFAs offering people help with money issues should have on their smartphones:

  • OneNote – If you still use pen and paper to keep track of your client meetings, then One Note could be for you. It can record audio as well as the words that you type. With the ability for you to set up separate books within it for each of your clients, it will make keeping notes much easier.
  • Expensify – This app will allow you to upload and store photos of any receipts for your expenses claims. It not only makes the process simpler but also error-free.
  • Tripit – If you work across the whole of the country as an IFA, then this is the app for you. When you need to visit a few different clients in different parts of the UK in the same week, for example, this app will collate all your travel plans into one straightforward itinerary. Simply send your travel plans to the developers, and they will send your full itinerary back.
  • TaxCaster – Tax is always an issue that clients will ask you about when you work as an IFA. Most people seeking financial guidance will want to know more about this area. This app makes it easy to plug data in and get a quick estimate for clients on their tax obligations.
  • Forbes Investment Guide – A key part of being able to offer the best financial advice is keeping up with the latest news in the investment world. This handy app from respected institution Forbes allows you to do just that, wherever you are.

So much of working as an independent financial adviser requires you to be out on the road or away from the office. It is essential to have access to the information that you need. Making full use of your smartphone and mobile apps help you do this.

Don’t be left behind

Perhaps the most important takeaway from this article is to be aware that millennials and those from generation-z are tomorrow’s client base. These are people who have grown up with social media and web-based apps, and as they look to manage their investments, the vast majority will choose to do so using an app.

There are already plenty of apps in existence that claim to negate the requirement for a financial adviser at all. However, there’s no need to start looking for a new career just yet. A survey by a London based wealth management firm revealed that while more than 50% of millennials said they would prefer to manage their finances using a smartphone app, only 16% were in favour of technology-only financial planning that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques.

The message is clear – tomorrow’s clients will still want the services of a living and breathing financial adviser to provide them with wealth management and portfolio planning services. However, to remain competitive and continue to attract new customers, providing those services using app-based platforms is going to become not so much an attractive extra but a prerequisite that is crucial to your future viability.

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