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Advanced Financial Planning Goes Digital – Will RIAs Adapt?

Phil Cunningham






We take it for granted that we can log in to our bank account at any time to check our balance – but what about real-time access to a comprehensive financial plan?

Getting 24/7 financial planning info has been a bit more difficult – especially if working with an independent registered investment advisor.
That may be changing. Several financial technology firms have begun adding client portals to their lineups. This allows smaller advisory firms to offer professional online planning platforms and give your clients the ability to immediately update financial goals or assumptions – and quickly calculate new results.

NaviPlan’s ‘Narrator Clients’

Recently, I spoke with Phil Cunningham, CEO of Advicent, about his firm’s newest technology offering – Narrator Clients – an update to the very popular NaviPlan, now featuring a digital, interactive portal connecting advisors to clients and prospects.

NaviPlan is noted for its robust financial planning tools, catering to a high and ultra-high networth client base.
The folks at Advicent recognized that as a registered investment advisor today, you face competitive challenges not only from RoboAdvisors like Betterment and Personal Capital but from financial empowerment tools like Mint and YNAB – all of which give users a digital financial planning experience.

Even high networth investors have embraced the “Siri Way,” expecting instant answers.
“The entire concept is to take power of our financial planning solutions, and provide advisors with the ability to extend their reach, and turn these solutions into a continual planning experience, so clients can get online at anytime and anywhere to get updates,” Cunningham says.
Cunningham, who took over at Advicent in 2014 after lengthy experience with consumer technology, believes that advisors need to keep up with consumers’ desire for real-time information – and that these digital tools allow for better collaboration – and time savings.
“We make advisors’ lives easier,” he says. “Displaying the plan on the portal turns the experience into a continuous (value) to clients, and no longer feels episodic or dated.”

Continuous planning

If you’re still finding it cumbersome to manage all the account information – the new portals allow you to more easily input and update client data (clients can input their own data!) and to communicate with clients more frequently – and more efficiently – than just at quarterly meetings. Clients can leave messages for their advisor and even schedule their own meetings. It helps advisors combine face-to-face communication with self-directed tools. These features could be a huge benefit to your business, Cunningham notes:
“It’s important to be focused on efficiency,” he says. “The number of investors are increasing. With recent regulatory rulings regarding fiduciary duty, you have to provide value beyond investment management, but do it with more clients. Portal communication tools are digitizing the client experience and saving advisors’ time in creating much-needed financial plans.”

Marketing benefits

In addition to serving existing clients more efficiently, Cunningham believes tools like Narrator Clients – as well as its companions, Narrator Advisors (a practice and client management dashboard) and Narrator Connect (a financial planning customization tool) – could have a huge impact on marketing – reaching out to the next generation of tech-savvy clients, giving them much-needed financial tools and creating a diversified book of clients for advisors.

“Narrator gives you the ability to create your firm’s experience, with your firm’s branding, look and feel. You can utilize our widgets and tools on your blog, website or social media account to tell your story.”

Cunningham and the folks at Advicent shared the following screenshots of their new Narrator tools. Check it out! The Siri Generation is waiting for you!

Client portal

Client Portal 1

Advisor dashboard

Advisor Dashboard

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