Systems integration falling by wayside

Advisers want to see more action in regard to the integration of platforms and software.


By Julie May

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One of the biggest challenges facing financial planning practices was integration between their systems, with 88 per cent of planners seeking improvements from their providers, new research from Investment Trends revealed today.

The group’s “May 2015 Planner Technology Report” assessed the technology needs of 892 advisers, showing 43 per cent were willing to use costlier platforms and planning software systems to have their integration needs met.

“Integration is a daily source of friction in planners’ businesses and any improvements towards alleviating this are likely to be well received by financial planners,” Investment Trends head of wealth management research Recep Peker said.

Platforms and software providers had the opportunity to work closer together to improve integration and business efficiency, with Peker identifying the largest opportunity being the ability to streamline the platform account opening process via planning software.

Other findings in the report revealed tablets and similar touchscreen-enabled devices looked set to play a significantly greater role in planners’ businesses in the future.

The survey revealed 37 per cent of planners already used tablets for business purposes and a further 41 per cent would like to do so.

Meanwhile, tablet adoption was highest among financial planners aged 40 to 54, with 39 per cent of that demographic saying they used them in their business.

“Planners are going mobile, with nearly eight in 10 seeing a role for tablets within their business,” Peker said, adding advisers regarded the value of tablet devices as making new business processes more efficient and enabling ongoing client engagement.

“There is strong evidence that tablet devices can play a key role in enhancing the client engagement experience [and] our consumer research found planner clients had extremely positive experiences when a tablet device was used by their financial planner.”

Consequently, planners would rely on technology providers more than ever for mobile optimised solutions, he added.

The survey revealed that in terms of the top three planning software providers by number of primary relationships, Xplan was still in the lead followed by Coin and Midwinter respectively.

Among planners that used planning software, 54 per cent of advisers said Xplan was their most used software solution, up from 53 per cent in 2014, followed by Coin at 21 per cent, down from 23 per cent a year ago, and Midwinter which remained at 8 per cent.

The survey also found Xplan had extended its lead as the preferred destination for financial advisers who were looking for new software.

Among those who intended to look for new software in the next 12 months, 36 per cent said they were more likely to start using Xplan, with the next provider choice representing 8 per cent.

Meanwhile financial planners’ freedom of software choice remained at 52 per cent when compared to 12 months earlier, however, that was still higher than 2013 when just 39 per cent said they had freedom of choice.

In terms of satisfaction among users, Midwinter came out on top, followed by AdviserLogic and AdviserNetgain.

Peker said compared to 2014, financial planners were rating their software significantly better across many of the elements measured by Investment Trends, notably for mobile access, transaction reporting and user interface.

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