Are planners cooling on technology?
Financial planners are cooling slightly on the idea of technology as the silver bullet for the industry’s challenges as the coronavirus crisis dominates priorities, although some formerly fringe tools are becoming more readily adopted.
That’s one key finding from the 2020 Financial Planning Tech Survey, carried out by US industry publication Financial Planning and published recently. The survey, taken between late March to early April this year, canvassed the views of 225 financial advisers.
20% use no planning software at all
While new technological tools and automated processes are frequently talked up as the answer to fee pressure and the drift to robo-advice solutions, the survey found 20% of the sample this year were not using any financial planning software at all.
The survey’s authors said while an 80% user rate is still high for an industry typically slow to adopt new technology, the fall contradicts the view about the direction of the advice industry and could signal that technology is no longer seen as offering a key competitive advantage.
Coronavirus crisis blamed
Some respondents blamed the coronavirus crisis and the need for immediate issues management during a time of volatility for the lack of focus on technology. Others cited cost pressures related to the economic downturn for forestalling new investment.
Another possible cause of the pullback in technology investment cited by the survey authors was that many smaller firms might be discovering they are using only a fraction of the available capabilities of new technological solutions.
Rapid adoption in formerly fringe technologies
Even so, the survey did find a rapid increase in the adoption of formerly fringe technologies. Chatbots, for instance, were used by only 4% of respondents in the previous annual survey. This has now increased to 44%.
Increases were also seen in the use of social media management tools, multifunctional platforms and digital advice.
The most widely used technological tools in advice firms related to in document management (89% of the survey sample), customer relationship management (88%), client portals (81%), financial planning (81%) and portfolio management and rebalancing (77%).
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