By Stephen Handley, FinPal CEO
The financial planning profession is unique in many ways, not the least of which is the long term view taken. While financial advice can provide immediate benefit, the true value is generally not realised for many years. Because of this, the journey financial advisers take with clients often results in deep relationships being formed. However, in the early stages, it can also make it more difficult to demonstrate value and build trust.
During my years, working in the IT industry in the USA, I was exposed to the basic concepts of financial planning. I signed up for insurance offered through work, I contributed to my 401K and I watched with glee as my tech heavy share portfolio climbed in the late nineties, only to see it crumble when the dotcom bubble burst. While I inherently understood the benefit of financial planning, I never really spent time considering the long term impact of my actions.
When I joined the financial planning industry, the first step I took was to review my own plan. Rather than relying on the “financial planning software” available at the time, I did what any respectable engineer would do. I opened up Excel and created a view of my future.
- How long before our debt was paid off?
- How quickly was our wealth building?
- How much were we likely to have at retirement?
- If something happened, what financial support would our insurance provide?
Show clients their future
“Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.” – Lao Tzu
There is nothing mystical, or even complex, about determining the answers to the above questions. But the clarity achieved is extremely valuable, as it empowers us to make informed changes.
When I started providing financial advice to clients, I used my trusty spreadsheet to generate a Financial Health Report. Of course, I made sure they received the FSG, CFF, SoA, PDS and every other TLA required for compliance. But the report was the document my clients kept, because it provided real and immediate value. For the first time, they had a clear picture of their existing situation and, more importantly, what the future looked like if they kept doing what they were doing.
While my clients loved the “Financial Health Report”, I quickly realised how time consuming it was going to be to manually prepare these reports and keep them up to date. Unfortunately, none of the existing financial planning software options made it easy to produce custom reports. So I persevered with Excel until I was able to automate their creation inside our own financial planning CRM system.
Fast forward a few years, and what began as an Excel spreadsheet has evolved into an online client portal that is permanently linked to the FinPal CRM system and provides clients a real time window into their financial planning future. Fact find information is collected directly through the portal, giving clients an instant view of their current situation and the impact of possible changes. Armed with this intelligence, clients identify changes they would like to make, which inevitably (and quickly) leads to formal advice.
About FinPal’s Financial Planning Software
FinPal’s financial planning software solution helps financial advisers empower their clients. Our CRM system connects directly to a web based client portal, which allows online fact find & client reporting. Click here to learn more.
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