Fiserv is a well-known brand in the institutional financial services sector, but its products and services for independent financial professionals are less visible, constituting only a small fraction of the company's total business. A new product, Proposal Generation Manager, expands the options for independent managers.
This latest offering extends Fiserv's Financial Advice Management platform. This platform is anchored by AdvisorVision, which offers such capabilities as automated strategy generation, Monte Carlo simulation, customized risk assessment, scenario builders and goal analysis. Besides Proposal Generation Manager, other components include Investor Needs Analysis and Retirement Illustrator.
According to Fiserv's business solution strategist, Jeremy Schlarb, most advisory firms share common goals. These include a desire to deepen client relationships, enhance the client experience, improve quality and efficiency, increase revenues, monitor and mitigate risk, capture held-away assets, and recruit and retain key talent. Schlarb believes that technology can play a key role in achieving all of these goals and that advisory firms want easy-to-use, seamless solutions wherever possible.
When designing software, Fiserv is conscious of these goals and of some challenges advisory firms face, including regulations, integration with legacy systems, maximizing workflow efficiency and minimizing manual data inputs.
Besides offering a complete set of products to provide support in every aspect of an advisor's day, Fiserv markets components individually to independent advisors. This allows an advisor to create a custom workstation consisting of Fiserv components, or to use one or more Fiserv components with an existing technology infrastructure.
THE NEW PRODUCT
Proposal Generation Manager is designed to allow advisory firms to input or import data, apply business rules, analyze data, select investments or strategies, propose solutions, compare proposals to the current situation and put the proposal into effect.
When you first log on to the system, you arrive at the advisor dashboard. For those who have used Fiserv financial planning tools in the past, the interface will feel familiar. It is clean and uncluttered, with a navigation bar on the left. That bar can be hidden to provide the advisor with additional workspace.
At the top of the screen are the primary navigation tabs: Home, Investment Plan, Setup and Support. If you own additional Fiserv modules, there will be additional tabs for Client Profile, Portfolio, Planning and Monitoring.
Within each section, there are additional navigational tools. For example, on the home screen, tabs divide contacts into Active Clients, Inactive Clients, Prospects and All Clients. Within each tab, you can sort by such details as client name, plan description and client assets. For advisors with a large client base and prospect pipeline, there is a search feature. Overall, the tools to locate a contact within the system quickly are very well done.
CREATING A PROPOSAL
When you locate the case you wish to work on, you move to the Investment Plan Tab for that client. You begin to create a new proposal by copying the client's existing plan as a starting point or start an entirely new proposal.
At the Investment Tab, you are prompted for personal information for the client and spouse, family members, professional contacts, notes, interests and concerns. Wherever you see a magnifying glass next to a data field, it indicates that you may enter or view additional information by clicking on the icon. Unfortunately, it is not always clear what types of additional details are available.
Once client information is entered, the next step is the risk assessment questionnaire. Based on a client's answers to a short set of questions, he or she is assigned a risk profile (moderately aggressive, for example). The application then recommends a portfolio allocation with the indicated risk characteristics. All of the allocation models are configurable in the setup section. This means users can designate the asset classes they want to use, and then they can create asset allocation models that map to the various risk tolerances.
The recommended allocation can be changed at various stages of the workflow if you believe another level of risk is more appropriate. Finally, the recommendation page displays a list of the asset classes with their indicated percentages, the anticipated risk (expressed as expected standard deviation) and the expected return.