needs to be. This is surprising since there is far more money to
be earned by helping individuals save money on their taxes or
earn a higher return than can be made beating a chess champion.
The biggest problem for advisors is that they’re faced with an
array of software programs. Each one tries to solve a specific
aspect of planning, but the programs aren’t easy to use and to
integrate with one another. According to Andrew Anderson,
market strategist at Northwestern Mutual, today’s advising
software creates what he refers to as “the swivel chair concept
… advisors have one computer screen to do portfolios, another
for taxes, another for servicing clients, etc.”
Each software program provides its own unique workflow task
but each operates independently. “The swivel chair concept re-
flects how rudimentary the technological support of the industry
is,” notes Anderson. “Being a holistic financial planner is a fairly
new profession that’s still evolving.” And so is the technology.
“Technology available for advisors needs a lot of improve-
ment,” according to Rajneesh Motay, head of Advice Engines
at Morningstar. “Not everything in an advisor’s workflow has
been automated to the extent that they can scale up easily.”
Even Morningstar, which perhaps provides the most com-
prehensive suite of advisor software solutions, recognizes this
usability gap. “We haven’t yet provided as much technology
help as we perhaps could. That’s where Morningstar is head-
ed,” Motay says.
Among the problems with advisor technology is the time
and knowledge needed to input data correctly and use the
program effectively. Does a new advisor have the time to learn
each software program?
Those new to the business often need help the most, but instead find themselves spending most of their time developing
new client contacts. Can software help professionals deliver
better advice and spend less time in front of a computer and
more time in front of clients?
Style vs. Substance
Among advisor technology companies, too much effort is going
into the creation of client-facing output that looks impressive,