As the classic saying goes, if you’re not green and growing, you’re dead and dying.
In an age where disruption is the new ‘black’, financial planning advisers and wealth management companies that are not on the innovation curve may find themselves a step behind the bold, disruptive players.
With Fintech businesses and new software applications on the rise, the financial planning industry is facing a number of tech advancements, from AI and robo advice to predictive analytics and blockchain technology.
Here’s the top 7 tech trends for financial planners in 2017:
- Growth of the Fintech Sector
According to a 2016 PWC survey, “…the digital revolution is transforming the way customers access financial products and services“.
A disrupting force in the financial services sector, FinTech is described as the “dynamic segment at the intersection of the financial services and technology sectors where technology-focused start-ups and new market entrants innovate the products and services currently provided by the traditional financial services industry.”
As the young ‘cashed up’ millennials (aged 18 to 34) demand faster and more efficient services driven by new digital technologies, the sector is set to grow exponentially.
The PWC report notes that within the next 3 to 5 years, cumulative investment in the global FinTech sector could exceed 150 billion.
A further report by Frost & Sullivan (Fintech in Australia – Trends, Forecasts and Analysis 2015 – 2020) forecasts reports that the Australian Fintech sector alone will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 76.36 per cent and reach A$4.2 billion by 2020.
So watch out for more news and growth in this sector in 2017 – from digital payments to data analysis algorithms and more. More importantly, be aware of how these technologies and businesses can enhance your current advice practice.
2. Sophisticated data analytics
The emergence of new ways to store and capture data is one of the this year’s biggest tech trends in the industry.
According to PWC, new uses of data analytics spans the entire financial spectrum from institutional trading and risk management to small notional retail wealth management.
Risk management approaches such as behavioural algorithms and predictive analytics allows real time analysis of transactions, the chance to increase customer satisfaction and reduce and streamline costs.
Australia is charging ahead with many inventive startups moving into the data space. As reported in Business Insider, the international venture capital firm, Sapien Ventures, has led a $1.5 million series A funding round for Australian fintech startup, Investfit.
Using sophisticated predictive analytics, the software is designed to help financial planners and advisers (as well as consumers without access to professional advice) make “billions” of calculations in real time to simulate someone’s financial future and predict variability in market returns.
The new software is also aimed at solving the issue faced by many retirees: lack of funds resulting from the wrong financial strategy.
“Investfit solves this problem through technology that helps advisers and their clients make better informed decisions along the way”, says the co-founder, Ed de Salis.
“For those who don’t currently use an adviser, Investfit can show the very real benefits of getting advice.”
Stay tuned for more growth in predictive analytics and data management tools in 2017.
3. The rise of mobile
The way we access information and make payments has radically changed over the last 5 years.
According to Adviser Business Review, the rise of mobile is one of the six key trends in financial planning, with today’s “mobile-first consumers” expecting security, immediacy, convenience and convenience all at once.
2017 will see the rise of tablet and smartphone use, with more and more customers using mobile devices to browse information, analyse data and transfer funds.
Frost & Sullivan predict that from 2016, digital payments will have steady revenue growth with the segment forecasted to be worth A$1.8 billion by 2020.
Mobile payments are also expected to take off in 12 to 18 months. With digital payments now available through smartphones, tablets and web-based tools, your client can exchange currencies, trade funds or make credit card payments instantly. It’s the era of global digital banks – no physical branch required.
Recent entrants into the digital payment sector include Apple Pay and Google Play with PayPal, Square Register, Woolworths Money and After Pay all vying for market share.
4. AI, robo advisers and algo-banking
Artificial intelligence is no longer a fancy new technology reserved for science fiction films: it’s here to stay.
Primed to have a major impact on the financial service industry, AI developments will continue in 2017 and beyond.
Expect the rise of the robo-adviser (think automated or digital investment advice) to continue with a strong push into the superannuation sector and high net-wealth arena.
As noted in a 2016 report by Deloitte, robo advice is not just for those who can’t afford financial planning help. Even the more affluent consumers (who already have access to financial advice) will start experimenting with this new advisory model and some will shift over a portion of their financial assets.
Self-learning AI tools will continue to pop up, aimed at analysing customer behaviour for everything from fraud or financial crimes to investment opportunities to saving methods.
Algo-banking is another new trend to hit the wealth management space. Algorithm based banking (algo-banking) will allow for advice based on customised algorithms, structured data and a thorough analysis of your financial details to recommend the best investment and saving methods.
Here’s a few examples of AI in the global financial planning industry right now:
- SuiteBox are using AI by converting video content to text and developing facial recognition technology which allows them to offer analysis tools around meeting content.
- In August 2016, Equip MyMoney launched its robo investment service for the Australian superannuation industry.
- Popular robo advisor startup, Wealthfront, raised $64 million in venture capital funding and is reported to have over $2 billion in assets under management.
- US startup, Clinc (University of Michigan), is using deep learning technologies to deliver AI tools that will enable consumers to use natural language interaction with their banking and financial services providers.
The key advantages of AI are: less labour costs and reduced investment and financial planning costs for customers. Businesses should be actively researching new technologies in this space to see how they can improve their service offerings and stay competitive.
Just remember: when it comes to managing money and securing your clients’ financial future, customers still put a high priority on human interaction and value professional relationships. There’s definitely room for collaboration between AI and humans so we’re not redundant (yet!).
5. APIs and the cloud marketplace
APIs (Application Programming Interface) are like a ‘plug and cable’ of new technology.
An API allows two different programs to talk to each other and send data back and forth between different systems.
With ‘specialist’ platforms and tools on the rise, API technology means that financial planners will be able to offer a more seamless customer experience by integrating their existing platforms with external plug-ins to provide customised solutions for their clients.
2017 will see more API-integrated apps plugging into CRM software in the financial planning space, from virtual meeting rooms to robo advice to insurance comparisons, cash flow analysis and more.
6. Video and virtual meeting rooms
Video may have killed the radio star but it’s not killing the wealth management sector; in fact, it’s reviving and changing entire industries worldwide.
Global fintech marketing and events company, Finovate, recently placed virtual meeting rooms at the top of wealth technology trends for 2017.
Companies like SuiteBox that aim to transform customer engagement with intuitive video, document collaboration, selective recording and real-time digital signing, are going to feature more prominently in the industry over the coming year.
Think about how to use video and virtual meetings in your financial planning practice: you can deliver significant business benefits and an improved client experience by jumping on board with the video trend.
7. Blockchain: an untapped technology
Blockchain is a distributed database of computers that maintains records and manages transactions or a secure and distributed “ledger”.
As explained by Professor Wind of the Wharton Research Fellows and his colleagues, Libert and Beck, “rather than having a central authority (such as a bank), blockchain uses the network to approve ‘blocks’ or transactions, which are then added to the ‘chain’ of computer code. Cryptography keeps transactions secure and the distributed nature of transaction approval makes the system harder to tamper with.”
It might be a bamboozling tech concept (with a number of adoption barriers to date) but PWC has reported that this technology is the next big evolutionary jump in business process optimisation technology. Watch this space.
Given that wealth managers have a multi-trillion dollar opportunity to capitalise on the massive wealth transfer between Baby Boomers and Millennials, technology advancements can’t be ignored.
Get ready for modern day, tech-savvy clients: they’re demanding a greater sense of control over their finances, advanced digital technology services, social media awareness and financial coaching instead of “advice”.
They are highly likely to be time poor (like many of your current prospects) and the ability to meet, communicate and respond on their terms will be very attractive to them.
Rather than feeling threatened by new tech waves, the ones who will succeed are the ones who see the Fintech movement as a chance to nurture client relationships and improve and augment their financial planning services.
Take a moment to think about what an advice business of the future might look like, what will it need to do for clients and importantly how will it be delivering to clients. Chances are the changes in the next 5 to 10 years will be far greater than we have seen over the last 30.
For a strong market advantage, you need a strategy to integrate new software solutions into your existing platforms, incorporate automated advisory tools where necessary, revise your core competencies and digitize your practice to stay relevant into the 21st century.
At this Insight webinar, we’re talking what it takes to build a practice that is seen as a super asset, and what it looks like to be the principal of such a firm, so you can take the info and chart a path to making your firm a saleable, humming machine.
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Chris Wrightson. Founder and CEO at Centurion Market Makers, the industry experts in the sale, acquisition and management of financial planning firms. If you’re planning on selling your firm in 2017, we’d love you to call us for a confidential discussion, or continue browsing our website for more tips, tools and info on the steps to take when buying or selling your financial planning firm.
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