Humanized Planning in a New Technology Landscape
While historically associated with the contribution of the human advisor, the financial planning business is responding quickly to the digital realignment of wealth management. In many ways, planning has become the front line.
Mature businesses like financial planning technology tend not to be so innovation-driven or hotly contested. But the commoditization of the portfolio manufacturing and maintenance function, driven in large part by the emergence of the robo advisor, has underscored the importance of providing integrated financial advice. This advice comprehends the management of investments and insurance and as well as highly sensitive retirement, estate, and tax planning needs. Financial planning technology offers efficiencies to a business not ready to be fully automated.
My recent study of the North American financial planning landscape describes the fecund market for new tools and technology, outlining key areas of growth and the motivations driving the engagement of banks, wirehouses and other wealth management incumbents. It highlights the evolution of client portals and self-service mechanisms in line with the shift to more collaborative client relationships.
The importance of client advisor collaboration presents a jump off point for future research. Over the next few years, wealth managers will be under pressure to humanize the financial planning process as well as scale it. One way financial planning technology firms can help advisors tune into the needs of clients is by supporting social media engagement, as Advicent has done via its Advisor Briefcase content marketing platform.
The Internet of Things offers ways to make the financial planning process less intrusive and even imperceptible to clients. Insurers such as John Hancock have done a great job incorporating client health metrics and even real-time data into their programs.
Wealth managers and financial planning technology firms are moving beyond static, paper-based “doorstop” financial plans and becoming increasingly end user friendly. Now they need to embrace the full potential of digital technology to make planning even more timely and relevant.