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When it comes to advice tech, a stitch in time saves nine

Lack of time to learn and implement new tech is the biggest barrier to its adoption followed closely by the lack of integrations. But investing the time to make the tech work can save time in the end. As the old saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine.

We recently published our annual Financial Advice Business Benchmarks report with the PFS (Personal Finance Society). The report is packed with data and insight on the size, structure and make-up of financial advice businesses. One of the themes we cover each year is adviser tech. Among the 365 respondents to the survey:

  • 57% of advisers say that their greatest tech challenge is a lack of time to learn and implement new tech solutions
  • 53% name a lack of integrations as their second greatest tech challenge.

We all know that the investment of time to get the tech set up right can pay dividends later, but the results will be felt unevenly. In the report mentioned above, we quantified time taken in financial advice businesses in the first year of a new client relationship. Let me start by walking you through that data to illustrate how some tech investments save time.

Time spent with new clients

We broke the financial planning process into seven steps, inspired by work that Michael Kitces did in the US. (If you’re interested in US financial planning and tech trends, I’d recommend subscribing to his newsletter). The chart above shows the average time spent for each activity. In total, advisers spend an average of 22.6 hours in the first year of a client relationship.

I would argue that time spent with clients is usually time well spent. So the goal is to reduce time on other tasks, such as gathering and analysing information.

Our analysis suggests that firms using Intelligent Office, CashCalc and Intelliflo’s PFP (Personal Finance Portal) spent less time on average across the financial advice practice in the first year of a new client relationship. The time savings was 2-3 hours across the seven activities.

Note, we didn’t look at tech in isolation. We also looked at whether there were time savings for firms with different investment propositions and regulatory authorisations. We also looked at the size of firm and age of the adviser. Only two had as big of an impact on time spent: gender and discretionary permissions. Women and firms that have discretionary permissions spend more time on average in the first year of the client relationship.

On tech, I would argue that simply adopting Intelligent Office, CashCalc or PFP won’t save your firm time. The trick is to take the time to make the tech work properly which brings us back to where we started, a stitch in time saves nine.

Download the 2020 Financial Advise Business Benchmarks Report here.

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