Technology struggles to keep up with planner needs

Financial planners’ needs are evolving, but technology providers are struggling to keep pace. This was one of the key findings to come out of the Investment Trends 2017 Planner Technology Report, now in its 14th year.

Despite the significant investments being made by technology providers, planners feel their support needs are still not being sufficiently met. And planners are becoming increasingly unsettled with their product suite as a result.

According to the report, 75 per cent of planners are open to switching their primary platform, either for lower administration fees (47 per cent) or a wider platform feature set (28 per cent). Even among the 47 per cent who are seeking lower administration fees, functionality enhancements remain a significant driver of potential switching – with 82 per cent of this cohort enticed to switch platforms for functionality enhancements.

“While planners traditionally use platforms for their efficiency benefits, the vast majority are open to alternative solutions that play a greater role in advice delivery, from the back-office to the front,” said Recep Peker, Research Director at Investment Trends.

“Planners envision the next generation of platforms to be feature rich, providing them support with plan production, modelling tools and interactive client review tools,” Peker said.

The study found that CFS FirstChoice (32 per cent) and BT Wrap (29 per cent) were the two most widely used platforms among planners for new client inflows. However, the newer platforms – Netwealth, HUB24 and BT Panorama – were steadily extending their market share.

“Netwealth, HUB24 and BT Panorama are among the most technologically advanced platforms in the market, delivering not only efficient admin and online functionality, but also a wide ranging proposition that includes good portfolio management tools and a wide product range,” said Peker.

Netwealth and HUB24 also achieved the joint highest overall platform satisfaction score, with both platforms rating significantly higher than their peers across service areas relating to BDM support, mobile access and user interface.

The top five platforms by overall satisfaction were:
  1. Netwealth and HUB24 (joint first);
  2. CFS FirstChoice;
  3. BT Wrap; and
  4. Macquarie Wrap.
XPLAN maintained its dominant position in the planning software space (with 54 per cent of planners using it as their primary software), while AdviserLogic secured top spot in overall software satisfaction. Coming in second was Midwinter, followed by XPLAN. AdviserLogic also leads the industry across the majority of service elements measured, particularly relating to quality of training, navigational efficiency and user interface.

According to the report, the average financial planner uses 3.2 separate systems to collect data required for client reviews. If given the opportunity to consolidate to one single system, planners overwhelmingly prefer their planning software to fulfil this role, ahead of their platforms or third party standalone solutions.

The Investment Trends 2017 Planner Technology Report is a study of Australian financial planners and their technology needs. The study is based on a survey of 533 financial planners concluded in May 2017.

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