Financial Planning 2.0: Why Independent Financial Advisors Should Leverage Data Aggregation Technology
In a hypercompetitive industry where independent financial advisors and their client services offerings are becoming increasingly similar to each other, offering the status quo is no longer enough to establish and grow a thriving financial advisory practice. It no longer cuts it to be an independent financial advisor with years of experience, credentials, and glowing recommendations who develops customized financial plans for each of their clients. The present reality is that while all these things are great, they are no longer differentiators but rather just the mere baseline to get your foot in the very crowded door.
There is a crisis of differentiation among advisors; fortunately, it can be overcome. An independent financial advisor who truly wants to grow his or her business must offer a unique value proposition to clients—a point of differentiation from the giant pack of hungry wolves. One way to differentiate yourself from other independent financial advisors is to embrace and offer new technologies such as data aggregation technology to bolster your practice and offer increased value and services to your clients.
If you are not already using data aggregation technology, it’s time to catch up before you get left behind.
What is data aggregation technology?
Data aggregation, which is also sometimes called account aggregation, is a technology that automatically collects information from accounts at various institutions, including your custodian accounts and your clients’ held-away accounts. The technology takes all the information from these various accounts and compiles it into one place, making the information available to your other systems. Data aggregation technology essentially eliminates the tedious process of collecting paper statements, acquiring the requisite log-in credentials from your clients, logging in and out of various client accounts, and manually entering the data into your client portals, performance reporting and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, or any of your other existing financial planning systems.
Why advisors should use data aggregation technology
Data aggregation technology provides independent financial advisors with a convenient way to get daily-updated transaction and financial position information from a client’s accounts that are held at virtually any retail bank or brokerage.
Data aggregation is especially useful when it comes to a client’s non-managed accounts. Non-managed accounts are a client’s asset-containing accounts that are not under the direct control of the advisor including but not limited to checking and savings accounts, 401(k) accounts managed by a client’s employer, pensions, and credit card accounts. With non-managed accounts, an advisor can’t get information from the account unless the client gives the advisor his or her login credentials to access the bank or brokerage website that holds the account information.
Additionally, using data aggregation technology helps your clients protect their privacy interests since the technology eliminates the need for them to disclose their login credentials (usernames, passwords, etc.) each time you want to access their aggregated accounts.
As a growth-oriented independent financial advisor, you want to be able to provide your clients with a holistic, “whole picture” approach to their financial planning and asset management needs. Just think about how time-consuming and inconvenient it would be to regularly update a client’s financial plan or personal net worth/financial position statement if you had to constantly obtain the client’s login credentials for each account and then manually log in to each account to determine the current status and value or each account.
Today’s clients expect real-time, 360o account information—no matter where these accounts are held or who manages them—that is accessible from a single location. Just look at the extreme popularity of web services and mobile apps such as SigFig (an online investment company that offers automated services to manage a user’s investment portfolio and track the user’s accounts) and Mint.com’s personal finance software that lets users see all their transactions and balances from various accounts all in one place in real-time.
Technological advancements have lifted the standard of advice that financial planning clients have come to expect. If you can’t meet these new “instant, mouse-click” away standards, you will be hard pressed to grow your business and there’s a good chance you’ll lose current clients to advisors who do utilize relevant technology to meet and exceed theses new client services standards.
Survival in today’s competitive financial services sector requires more than just treading water; advisors who seek to not just survive but also thrive in this fast-paced era of digital transformations can’t just cling to yesterday’s strategies and hope for the best. The future will belong to those that don’t just settle but rather embrace innovation and technology such as data aggregation software.
Summit Brokerage is a recognized leader in providing next generation technology and empowering its independent financial advisors to maximize productivity, enhance client services offerings, and reach their practice’s growth potential by offering seamlessly integrated best of breed applications including but not limited to data aggregation software.
For more information on Summit Brokerage Services and our independent financial advisors, visit https://www.summitbrokerage.com or call us at (800) 354-5528.
About Summit Brokerage Services
Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. is part of Cetera Financial Group®, a leading network of independent retail broker-dealers. Summit Brokerage provides a broad range of securities brokerage and investment services to primarily individual investors. Summit Brokerage also sells insurance products, predominantly fixed and variable annuities and life insurance through its subsidiary, SBS Insurance Agency of Florida. Summit Brokerage also provides asset management services through its investment advisor, Summit Financial Group, Inc.
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