In 2023, for the first time ever, the FCA explicitly recommended consumers have access to cash flow planning tools. These have become one of the main pillars of financial planning software in the past few years and help answer what is perhaps the most pertinent part of personal finance: am I bringing in more than I'm spending? By extension, is this gap big enough to sustain me when I won't be working any longer? The right financial planning software is key to making these sorts of analyses.
Adding in some kind of robustness testing or sensitivity analysis is a surefire way of making people feel much safer about the day to day financial planning decisions they're making. This is also something that translates to software for financial advisors - usually this is slightly more in depth, as they will be inputting the data themselves, either after the meeting with the client, or directly from the information compiled in their factfind. The journey starts with customer relationship management, and ends with the actual advice.
So what is the best software for financial advisors in 2024?
Types of financial planning software
There are a number of financial planning software tools that cover all different parts of the onboarding, relationship management and client relationships part of the advisory business. We'll take a quick look at some of the players and what their appeal is, as well as how Strabo can be used as a client-facing tool for financial advisors, both as free financial planning software, and also for things like retirement planning, cash flow analysis and reports and insights for clients to take home.
Benefits of Great Financial Planning Software
It's pretty obvious that using the best financial planning software will make life easier, but why? People often say that the big banks don't outsource this - but they are mired in bureaucracy that makes it hard to use external software, and have the budget and reputational capital to be able to afford to use outdated processes. Smaller advisory firms need to differentiate themselves on price, service, or both.
Great financial planning software means that you can run a more efficient operation - less capital spent on personnel and less time spent on the processes required to onboard and maintain client relationships. For example, customisable fact find software, customer risk profiling software, forecasting tools for clients, cash flow analysis, client portals to allow them to log in and check out their reports, and more.
Essentially taking each part of the process, and digitising it. There is no one-stop shop, so you'll inevitably have to choose a number of solutions, as well as decide which parts of the process to automate with financial planning software, and which part can be left to the administrators or advisors in your business.
What Are Popular Financing Planning Software Tools?
Finance professionals have a rich canon of tools to choose from - many build their own tech stacks, often linked together, which allow them to automate as much of the financial planning process as possible.
Some of the more popular pieces of software include Timeline for client reports, forecasting and report generation, Cashcalc for onboarding, integrations and cashflow modelling, and Plannr for the CRM and relationship management.
CRM Software solutions for Financial Advisors
CRM software is important on the back end of your business. It allows you to keep track of your client relationships, retain information about your clients and store this for the future. Contact management can get difficult as soon as you reach any kind of scale, and this means you need a solution.
The best financial planning software tools certainly include some kind of marketing automation too. Either the option to send emails directly, or track communication with important clients.
Customer relationship management is a key differentiation point for smaller advisory services, so you certainly shouldn't ignore this, not withstanding the benefits to your company's task management.
Financial planning software for advisors
Onto the actual financial planning software. Financial information is inputted here by the advisor, where they can generate multi dimensional analysis, financial consolidation of your assets including but not limited to bank accounts, perform advanced planning, and even sometimes use artificial intelligence to provide insights and exportable reports.
The advantage of these is that you can do both structured and dynamic planning - the overview of your client's current assets allows you to ascertain their position and make simple decisions, and the sensitivity analysis, performance reports and forecasting tools allow you to design and implement financial strategies based on their needs.
You should fill these out with the client, and then go through them carefully, particularly the cash flow forecasting tools we discussed earlier, in order to work out what course of action would be best taken, and then provide a report detailing this. The best financial planning services will do this mostly automatically, but you can also do it manually.
It's also a system that can be transferred into your personal finances - many people will have no need for professional financial advisors, and as long as the correct steps are taken, will be able to get by perfectly easily.
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Strabo for Financial Advisors
Of course, it wouldn't be fitting for us to let the occasion pass without mentioning our own humble wealth management solution. We're rolling out Strabo for financial advisors - not just a portfolio tracker, but a collection of customizable dashboards with advanced analytics that the advisor can configure with (or without) the client present, and then either run through with them in person or allow them to log into from home. This is the unique part - it can often be difficult for clients to take everything in during meetings, particularly pertaining to things like scenario analysis.
By giving them a login to the customizable reports that the advisor created for them from home, they can refresh their memory and will have a better understanding of the business and finance products that they are managing - potentially through you as an asset manager. So it's particularly important to give them clear and easily understandable access to their financial accounts on the same software that you use.
Is it worth it to develop custom software?
Some finance professionals, particularly those who are working as part of a group rather than independent advisors, may consider building their own financial planning software. After all, why would you buy something off the shelf if you have resources to build it yourself.
The answer is that for all but the largest financial institutions, it simply isn't worth it. Many of the tools listed above have white-label offerings: what does this mean? Well, you can pay a subscription service for the best financial planning software, slap your logo on the app and online dashboard, and then roll it out to your clients as if it was yours.
This isn't disingenuous at all, and it simply allows a smaller financial advisor to provide the same or a similar level of digital service to their clients as a large bank.
Conclusion: best financial planning software tools?
To be honest, and this will come as no surprise, there is no singular standout of the financial planning software tools available. Every financial advisor will have their own stack, probably with at least one each of CRM, back office management, financial planning tool and report generator for clients.
As long as there are adequate at showcasing the financial plans your financial advisor creates, and making it clear to the client what their financial health looks like, and will continue to look like for the rest of their life, the rest is immaterial. However, that being said we think that some combination of the following is our top 5 pieces of financial planning software:
How to choose the best software for financial advisers in 2024
As annoying as it probably sounds, there are only two ways to really choose financial planning software. The first is to rotate through a few different financial planning tools to see which ones work the best for you. The second is to look at the financial plans of some of your friends and colleagues, look at what sort of information they're displaying and use that to decide what your minimum requirements are.
As mentioned, it's vitally important you don't miss a few things - cash flow analysis, and making sure your clients have ample cashflow to withstand not just their retirement but also any unexpected events that might arise. Also forecasting, and stress testing the asset allocation chosen by the advisor, to make sure that the risk profiling done in their fact-find matches the allocation they are recommended. Good luck!