The Financial Planning Technology Landscape

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28 July 2015
Isabella Fonseca and William Trout


Despite the growth of “self-directed planning” among the robo-advisor firms, “light” robo-planning has not yet replaced the advisor. The inherent complexity in financial planning requires expertise and consideration of both goals and cash flow. There remain clear opportunities for advisor-led financial planning, provided that financial planning adapts to new expectations among investors.

The central task for advisors is to convey this expertise while ensuring that investors feel engaged throughout the iterative planning process. As such, wealth managers and technology providers must consider financial planning technology as not merely “advisor-facing,” but “advisor-led.” The distinction between these two terms is subtle but important.

“Advisor-led implies that the advisor and investor work collaboratively and continuously. The advisor provides his expertise but engages his clients around their goals and also provides various scenarios and probabilities around these goals,” says William Trout, a senior analyst with Celent’s Wealth Management practice and coauthor of the report. “Thus, financial planning tools become as much about engaging the investor in a collaborative conversation as they are about the resulting financial plan.”

To facilitate a highly digital and collaborative approach to financial planning services, financial planning technology is in the midst of an overhaul.

“Rather than simply adding new, sophisticated tools on top of existing workflows and UIs, financial planning technology providers are reworking their entire platforms to emphasize a more interactive design,” says Isabella Fonseca, research director of Celent’s Wealth Management practice and coauthor of the report. “Vendor differentiation has shifted from a ‘check-the-box’ strategy of functionality coverage to equal weight being given to functional coverage and ease of use. Interactive, client-centric tools have become especially important.”

This report highlights some of the most significant market trends and their implications on financial planning services and technology. Additionally, the report provides an overview of financial planning vendors and their respective products.

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EMEA, North America