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intelliflo - How technology will impact the future of paraplanning and advice

12 October 2021
Technology has fuelled the evolution of paraplanning in recent years, releasing the profession from the burden of administration and helping it become a driving force in the delivery of suitable, personal advice. Nick Eatock, CEO at intelliflo, looks at how the role of paraplanner has changed and how technology is set to impact the future of advice.

In the past, paraplanners were often seen as administrators and report writers, and the role was perhaps viewed as a step on the ladder to becoming a ‘proper’ financial adviser. But in recent years, paraplanning has evolved into a crucial part of the financial advice process, attracting highly qualified professionals recognised for their significant contribution to delivering the best outcomes for advised clients.

This change in status has been stimulated, at least in part, by improvements in financial advice technology. Increasingly, manual and labour-intensive processes have been automated, removing the pain of rekeying information and building and reformatting reports. Accessing information has become easier and performing due diligence more streamlined, reducing the time spent on research and in turn freeing up paraplanners to add value through more detailed input into the financial plan. Advice is becoming far more of a collaboration between the technical expertise of the paraplanner and the client knowledge of the adviser.

The Covid-19 effect

The impact of the pandemic has increased the use of technology by both firms and clients even further. Over the last eighteen months, we’ve seen users engage with intelliflo software more frequently and in greater depth than ever before. Areas of our systems have seen usage increase enormously as advice professionals sought ways to better service their clients when contact was restricted and employed functionality they had previously not utilised fully, if at all.

Clients too have, out of necessity, embraced technology across all parts of their lives. We saw usage of the intelliflo personal finance portal increase by 300% last year, with one in 200 UK adults now using our portal. This phenomenal rise shows the willingness of clients to accept digital as part of the financial advice process. It has also had the added benefit of increasing the quantity and frequency of information clients contribute via the portal. In turn, this has reduced the time spent on the fact find and provided more detail on which advisers and paraplanners can base their research and recommendations.

The switch to digital has also helped keep lines of communication open between client, adviser, paraplanner and other parties during the various lockdowns. This has been crucial to ensuring the smooth running of the advice process and avoiding delays. We’ve heard that in some cases the transition to video and online has enabled paraplanners to attend more client meetings alongside advisers, saving time and increasing efficiency by removing the need to pass on information afterwards.

And now the door has been pushed open, there’s no going back to the old ways of doing things. As we become more familiar with technology and digital processes, I believe the potential to streamline activities and free up time for paraplanners and advisers to spend on the end client can only grow.

The business benefits of technology

Being able to service each client more efficiently also opens the way for firms to provide suitable, regulated advice to more clients. Our eAdviser Index which looks at how advice firms are using the available functionality within intelliflo office, shows that making the best use of technology can make a huge difference to a firm’s cost base. The latest figures show that those maximising their use of available technologies have 41% more actively serviced clients and 126% higher AUA than those who are not yet fully using the functionality on offer. The need for advice has become even greater as people’s finances have been impacted – for both good and bad – during the covid crisis and the ability to service more clients per adviser will go a long way towards closing the much-reported advice gap.

The drive towards greater integration of different software and systems will also help improve the efficiency of paraplanners, enabling them to access and share data between systems to generate detailed solutions more easily. Open banking is already giving advice professionals a broader picture of client assets, and the ability to extend this to a wider range of financial products through initiatives like open finance and pensions dashboard will help advisers and paraplanners create a truly holistic view of the client’s wealth.
 
Connecting other financial planning tools, like cash flow analysis, provides the option to stress-test the plan ahead of client meetings, helping the paraplanner pre-empt potential issues and provide a range of options to meet the client’s goals. The plan can then be brought to life via interactive reports and modelling tools during the meeting to help the adviser demonstrate the value delivered by the plan.

The role of paraplanners in today’s technology-driven environment is becoming increasingly important to the success of advice firms. By investing in technology that provides the best support to paraplanners and advisers, firms can provide advice to a broader range of people, delivering long-term profitability to the business alongside long-term value to clients.

Sophisticated yet easy to use, intelliflo’s powerful technology is crafted to help you save time and cut costs, so you can focus on driving your business forward. Our range of cutting-edge solutions supports over 30,000 financial professionals worldwide. Discover how we can help you, your team, or your clients at www.intelliflo.com

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