Technology has crept its way into every facet of our lives. This seemed to accelerate in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to adapt and implement new technology, seemingly overnight. As 2021 dawns, top firms expect candidates to have developed nuanced expertise with various pieces of technology. Further, demonstrating the ability to resolve issues with, or take the lead in the implementation of, new technology, will make you an invaluable part of any team.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the software typically found within a financial planning firm and will divide them into 5 categories: financial planning, client relationship management (CRM), performance reporting and trading, custodial, and workflow. While some software offerings may be multifaceted, they generally fall into one of these categories.
Financial Planning: Financial planning software helps advisors input their client’s financial data (such as cash flows, risk tolerance, account balances, etc.), prioritize goals, and model outcomes.” software. Some of the most widely used programs are: eMoney, MoneyGuidePro, RightCapital, Advizr (which was recently acquired by Orion), MoneyTree, and NaviPlan. You may be able to garner experience by requesting a free trial of these offerings.
Additional tip: gaining exposure to tax planning software such as BNA Tax Planner and Lacerte or Social Security analyzers like SS Analyzer can be a great addition to your repertoire.
Client Relationship Management: CRM software has become indispensable within our profession. These tools allow advisors to store sensitive data such as dates of birth and social security numbers, meeting notes, and details of the client’s household. Many CRM platforms also allow users to set “tasks” or “to dos” to keep the office running smoothly. Widely used CRM vendors include Salesforce, Redtail, and Junxure. While it may be difficult to get a free trial, learn as much as you can during intern and externships. Further, try watching tutorials on YouTube or the company’s website.
Custodial: Custodial platforms are integral to the financial planning profession. This is where the client’s investment assets are actually held. The advisor is then granted either discretionary authority, whereby authorized members of the firm can trade securities on the client’s behalf without receiving consent for each respective decision, or non-discretionary authority, in which the client must authorize each trade, to manage the client’s investments. Schwab, Fidelity, Pershing, and Folio are among the most widely used vendors in the profession.
Performance Reporting & Trading: Tools such as Orion, Tamarac, and Black Diamond integrate with the firm’s custodian to track the performance of the client’s investments. Many of these tools also maintain trading functionality that helps advisors make household level trading, asset location, rebalancing, and tax loss harvesting decisions. Similar to CRM tools, the best way to get hands on experience is via an internship or externship. However, you can find excellent resources on each of their respective websites.
Additional tip: Try to find access to Morningstar Direct and Bloomberg Terminal functionality.
Workflow: Financial planning professionals are busy and any tool that makes their day go more smoothly will be welcomed. Workflow tools may include the Microsoft Office suite, calendar applications like Acuity, and document storage systems such as Box, Sharefile, and Dropbox, or workflow solutions like Workflowy, Trello, Slack, Asana, and Base camp.
Additional tip: As podcasts and video content become more prevalent, developing skills in the area of video editing and podcasting will only increase your value.
Finally, you need to strive for well above average MS Excel knowledge. Simply put, you can never be too skilled in the application as it is still used for storing information, sorting data, and developing ad hoc planning recommendations. Any opportunity to refine your Excel skills should be seized.
Financial planning is increasingly specialized. Developing nuanced skills in the field of technology will help you stand out in our ever-growing profession. Want additional ideas on how to become a better financial planner in 2021, reach out to us a firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your resume here. Be sure to check out our latest podcasts and informational videos as well.
In addition to becoming technologically competent, you also need to be technically competent as well. We have negotiated a discount for you to take the “How to Find Financial Planning Opportunities When Reviewing a Tax Return” Course from Kitces.com you can see an overview of the course here. The normal fee for the course is $397, but you can go here https://courses.kitces.com/catalog/info/id:129 and use this discount code KitcesTaxCourseNPR to receive $100 off the course list price. Take advantage of this discount and great content and increase your tax knowledge today!