Top 10 Most Popular Posts from 2013

What were the most popular WM Today posts from 2013?  Portfolio rebalancing, financial planning and anything mobile were big draws last year.  Here are the top 10 according to stats from WordPress:

10. 5 Ways a Web Portal Can Excite Your ClientsJunxure logo

This summary from the fantastic Technology, Tools & Today (T3) conference highlights how software vendors need to continuously expand and evolve their product offerings in order to stay relevant.  Junxure CRM has done this by building their ClientViewLive portal, which acts as central integration hub for all other wealth management products.  Through it, clients can access their account holdings, performance reporting, online statements even financial planning tools via a single sign on and a well-designed user interface.

9. Which Portfolio Rebalancing Software is Right for You? Smartleaf’s ResponseSmartLeaf logo

Part of an ongoing series of articles focusing on automated software rebalancers, I thought it would be interesting to interview different vendors and compare their products and their approaches to portfolio management. Continue reading

Is WealthTrace the Right Financial Planning Software for You?

“If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.”
Edmund Burke

The market for financial planning software has exploded over the past five years with new entrants bringing innovative approaches for managing client’s wealth and planning their retirement.  As part of my series on financial planning software, I reviewed WealthTrace, which is a relatively new player looking to find a niche in between existing products. (See Which Financial Planning Software is Right For You?)

The firm was launched three years ago by CEO Doug Carey, a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), former portfolio manager and financial software developer, after he became frustrated by how difficult financial planning software was to use.

They offer two versions of their product; one for advisors and another for individual consumers.   Currently, they have over 300 paid users of the consumer version, with the advisor version supporting around 300 trial users and 50 or so paying clients, Carey reported.

What is your company’s approach to financial planning?

At WealthTrace, one of their goals is to make it as simple as possible for the user to see the results of changes to the plan, Carey responded.  And those results should be front and center on the screen and easy to access.  Also, they believe clients have other goals besides running out of money and their system should help to address these goals, he said. Continue reading

Financial Advisor Technology: 9 Apps to Improve Your Practice

This is a summary of panel discussion from the Tools and Technology Today (T3) Conference that took place February 11-13, 2013 in Miami, FL.

Moderator: Joel Bruckenstein, T3

Panelists:

This was probably one of the most popular sessions at T3. Unfortunately, the room was half the size it needed to be. People were standing and sitting all around and every seat was full of enthusiastic attendees. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear that people were scalping tickets outside the door!

While it was crowded and started to get hot and stuffy towards the end, we certainly weren’t disappointed. Bill, Joel and Davis provided a smorgasbord of useful tech ideas that can improve efficiency and add value to many aspects of an advisors’ practice.

What tools can help improve client presentations?

idea FlightWinterberg and Janowski had a number of interesting suggestions in this area that would work both when your client is in your office and also when they are remote. There was also some discussion about whether to buy a large, flat panel monitor and hang it in the conference room or buy a bunch of iPads (or other tablets) instead.

Due to the explosion of tablets on the market, half of your clients under 50 probably have one already. So having meeting presentation software that supports mobile devices is not a bad idea. The many small screens option also frees you from conference room gridlock. You can hold presentations anywhere you like. Even outside, if it’s a nice day and your office has good WiFi range. These suggestions will work no matter which method you prefer.ideaFlight logo

Winterberg started off by recommending an app for sharing presentations on your iPad called Idea Flight. It uses aspects of an airline metaphor (i.e. pilot and passengers instead of presenter and audience) in their user interface. The “pilot” controls the presentation and up to 15 other iPads can be “passengers” and watch. The advantage of this form of presentation is that each participant has a high resolution, color screen only a few inches away. No straining to see the monitor or problem with viewing angles. The downside is that you need to have an iPad for everyone attending the meeting and your office needs to have wifi. With the price of technology dropping, this is probably not much of an obstacle. Second generation wifi-only iPads are available from Apple for only $399.

While their design is pleasant to look at and the app appears easy to use, there are some limitations. The biggest one is that it only supports sharing of PDF files. If all you need to do is walk clients through their performance reports or financial plans, then you probably won’t be bothered by this. However, if you would like to share your entire screen, other applications or video, then you should look at alternatives like join.me or Fuze Meeting (described below).

Idea Flight is a bargain at only $8 for the presenter and free for viewers.

You may want to wait before downloading this app since the most recent version appears to have introduced a number of bugs, which users are complaining about in the Review Section of the App Store.

Continue reading

Which Financial Planning Software is Right For You?

This is a summary of panel discussion from the Tools and Technology Today (T3) Conference that took place February 11-13, 2013 in Miami, FL.

Moderator: Linda Brady, EnvestNet

Panelists:

I liked the composition of this particular panel.  Two of the well-established vendors that dominate the market matched with two upstarts looking to innovate their way to the top.  It made for a livelier discussion.

What is your firm’s approach to financial planning?

One of the goals of inStream Solutions is to amplify the ambitions of how software can help a wealth management firm, Murguia announced.  It’s difficult for advisors to justify their fees when they are always in a reactive mode, he claimed, so the inStream software can proactively guide clients through their life cycle to help them to make the right decisions in everything that intersects finance.

The investment-centric approach is dying on the vine, Murguia proclaimed, since building model portfolios has become a commoditized business.  Advisors who insist on staying investment-centric will probably succumb to LearnVest or someone similar, he said.  The advice industry has to  compete against retirement calculators and other free tools since advisors are using them on the side anyway.  Planning software should not only identify opportunities but also help coordinate them to keep advisors from having to go to a third party system, he said.

The folks at Zywave believe that there is both an art and science to financial planning, Strachan asserted.  They provide the science and the advisor provides the art.  Their software avoids complex optimization strategies in order to emphasize the advisor’s skills and their value added to the process, she stressed.

Tishkevich believes that the future of advice is in mobile since it can deliver effective engagement and improves client communication.  His firm released a mobile app called RetireLogix, which is available for both iOS and Android.  The app can be branded to become a sort of personal digital business card, he noted.

Continue reading