Rise of the iAdviser
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Rise of the iAdviser


Stewart Bell, Business Coach, Elixir ConsultingMore adventurous advisers are embracing technology as a ticket to more efficient practice. 

Stewart Bell, Business Coach, Elixir ConsultingMore adventurous advisers are embracing technology as a ticket to more efficient practice. 

Many advisers we have spoken to of late have told us that efficiency is a key focus for them right now. At the same time, they tell us clients are becoming more likely to challenge the value they receive from their advice. For many businesses, one way to meet this two-sided challenge lies with technology.

While purchasing a new piece of software used to cost hundreds – sometimes thousands – of dollars, it’s now possible to find a tool for solving a problem for a fraction of that. So rather than seeking the perfect, all-in-one solution, many businesses are favouring niche solutions to ‘bolt on’ and use as needed.

So, what are we seeing being adopted by those more ‘tech-adventurous’ firms?

Mindmaps – Many have embraced mindmapping as a better way of fact-finding. These tools have enabled advisers to capture clients’ affairs more visually and present recommendations with greater clarity. At the same time, they are proving attractive to clients seeking tailored advice from an adviser who wants to fully understand them. The most popular versions we’ve seen are MindGenius and MindMeister, though there are numerous free alternatives. We particularly like MindGenius because of the export capabilities, which enable advisers to create documents and client presentations with a minimum of fuss and formatting.

Recording devices – The Livescribe pen has been a staple Elixir tool for years. At a reasonable cost, it enables advisers to get on with listening instead of worrying about missing vital info, and to review their engagement techniques following their meeting. With the number of iPad applications available increasing, the obstacles to recording meetings have diminished.

Online outsourcing/crowd-sourcing – Many firms outsource things like telephone reception, marketing (including social media), basic administration (formatting documents, proof reading), newsletter content, insurance applications, website management and SEO. Use of websites like oDesk and Freelancer are most common, but we’ve heard increasingly creative options. One website which keeps being mentioned is fiverr. One business recently showcased a musical Christmas card put together by a musician in Chicago; another, an animated promotional video that wouldn’t look out of place on TV. Both cost just $5. Increasingly, this is not just an opportunity to scale without fixed costs, but also to get a creative edge.

Online storage – Many firms share folders online with clients using tools like Dropbox and Google Drive. Not only does this mean foregoing having to email documents back and forth and worry about version control; it also represents a value-add of providing a highly-accessible central place to keep financial documentation. Whilst it’s important to be mindful of security issues, it’s something more people are now embracing.

Time analysis – Knowing how long things take is key to designing a good pricing model. Until recently, tracking this was usually inefficient (maybe using pen and paper), meaning most continue to rely on ‘guesstimation’. Desktop tools such as Rescue Time, tracking application use without data entry, make it easier.
Social media management –Great though it is, social media can take time. HootSuite is being used by many to manage things across multiple platforms. Auto-scheduling is another benefit, allowing the application to decide the best time at which to distribute communications.

Automated alerts – Got clients interested in specific topics, but no time to search the web for appropriate content? Setting up a weekly Google Alert will deliver potentially-appropriate content to your inbox automatically.

Cash flow coaching – For businesses that target wealth accumulators, being able to analyse cash flow is important. One problem is knowing how well clients’ understanding of their spending habits matches the reality. ANZ Money Manager is an established adviser favourite, linking to bank feeds and auto-categorising transactions to provide a truer picture. Recently, the lauded Xero Personal provides an additional opportunity to keep clients accountable for where their income goes.

Online operations manual – The problem with most Ops Manuals is that once written, they are hard to keep updated. Simple online wikis, using free tools like Google Sites, help. Staff can be directed to an online process manual when questions arise, and encouraged to update or create processes when needed. Combined with simple instructional videos instead of long swathes of instructions, the efficiency benefits become much clearer.

About Stewart Bell
Stewart Bell, Business Coach, Elixir Consulting

Stewart Bell is a Business Coach with Elixir Consulting, providing business consulting and coaching services to financial advice businesses, accountants, Licensees and institutions who want to deliver better financial outcomes, both for their clients and their own businesses.

Stewart has over ten years business coaching and practice management experience, gained from a variety of business improvement roles working in MLC, ThreeSixty, NAB and AMP/ Hillross Financial Services.

Since joining Elixir, in addition to working with a panel of financial planning and accounting firms as private coaching clients, Stewart has also delivered presentations, workshops and training programs for a diverse range of institutions. 

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