After working as a financial planner for the best part of 20 years, it’s scary to think how many statements of advice I’ve prepared, how many hours I’ve spent poring over the details and, even worse, how many reams of paper went unread by my clients.
So, why do we spend so much time producing statements of advice (SOAs) that our clients don’t want to read!?
The simple answer could be that they’re full of content that’s of no interest to the client. But that’s absolutely not true. The SOA is the primary document that formally addresses a client’s most important dreams, goals and concerns, complete with well-thought-through analysis, recommendations and an action plan of how to achieve those goals, including how to minimise risk for themselves and their family. The SOA is of critical importance!
Given the relevance and importance of the information in them, why the heck don’t they get read? I think most advisers would acknowledge that it’s because they’re usually far too long (sometimes approaching 100 pages!), flooded with layers of templated compliance wording from the licensees’ legal teams, they’re hard to read, even harder to understand and are usually so bland and vanilla that many people would rather poke out their own eye than wade through an SOA in their spare time. Who suffers the most is the client, who often does not understand the underlying rationale for the advice being provided.
So, why on earth do we continue to spend hours and hours on these documents? It’s time that changed.
In a world of connected technology, integrated data feeds and interactive design, the creation of an SOA can now largely be automated. The experience of interacting with one can be dynamic, visual and engaging. It just takes a little out-of-the-box thinking.
The industry has touted digital SOAs for some time, with ideas ranging from “smart PDFs” right through to getting a client to wear a VR headset for a 3D experience.
The Financial Planning Association recently established a working group consisting of financial planners, ASIC, CoreData, financial services lawyers like Holley Nethercote, and a handful of fintech companies to understand what the future of advice looks like. The core focus of this group is moving to digital SOA.
Streamlining the creation of SOA documentation will save the industry thousands of hours in lost productivity each year – we just need to figure out what the best solution is. My bet – it will take using existing technology in a new way.
Mark La Bozzetta, head of industry strategy, SalesPreso
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