Earth Day: Quick Tech Tips to a Greener Practice

As people and businesses all over consider their impact on the earth, Financial Planning has compiled some tips for eco-conscious advisors. In celebration of Earth Day we talked with industry experts about the ways advisors can build a greener practice. These tips will enhance your practice – making it greener and more efficient, and perhaps impressing clients along the way.

1. Cut down on paper

More advisor firms are adopting the trend of quick planning tools and are providing their clients with supplemental analyses for monthly, quarterly and annual meetings that are only a handful of pages rather than a cumbersome comprehensive financial plan with dozens of pages. Tools like ASI’s goalgamiPro answer the client’s main questions of: What is my plan? Can I afford my goals? And, how do I pay for my retirement?

“Determining the affordability of a client’s goal plan does not have to mean a three-hour investment in a financial planning application that results in a 70-page report that your client likely won’t understand or fully read,” says Neal Ringquist, president and COO of Advisor Software Inc. “Quick planning tools like goalgamiPro’s The Household Balance Sheet allow the advisor to easily and quickly perform the assessment of whether a client’s goals are within reach.”

2. Ditch the filing cabinets

Save space and filing time by storing valuable documents in the cloud. eMoney Advisor has a vault that investors are able to use to access important documents anytime. When Hurricane Sandy struck, causing many to lose their homes, they could still access their important papers, contracts and insurance policies.  The vault can also be used to store audio files, children’s artwork, wills, and anything else that can be converted to digital format.

“Successful advisors go beyond simply providing expert advice and continual guidance,” says Edmond Walters, founder and CEO of eMoney Advisor. “They also give clients tools that offer transparency into current holdings and allow them to validate recommendations, continue their financial education, access important documents, and collaborate on financial decisions. 

 3. Go Mobile

Advisors are constantly on the go meeting with their clients. Having a mobile friendly web site helps advisors easily run through client accounts and statements, without being limited by different browsers and devices such as smart phones and tablets. Envestnet’s AdvisorSuite empowers advisors by providing a full set of solutions—analytics, advisory tools and market access, combined with practice management and reporting capabilities—compatible with the latest technology.

“A lot of providers offer mobile apps with some features but not full functionality,” says Bill Crager, president of Envestnet. . The solutions from Envestnet |Tamarac are fully functional on tablets via a web browser, so the full suite of solutions from both platforms is available to mobile advisors as needed.”

The new Envestnet iPad App contains the AdvisorSuite platform’s full range of features coupled with a Presentation Mode that allows the advisor and client to pass the tablet back and forth and closely collaborate on a financial plan whether they are in a restaurant, the client’s home, or even a golf course.

4. Skip the postcard

Digital marketing and communications have transformed the way advisors communicate with their clients. Moving away from printed post cards not only cuts down on the environmental footprint but allows clients to provide immediate feedback as well.

“Electronic client communications not only allow you the ability to provide clients information more timely, but also in a more context rich experience,” says Eric Clarke, president and CEO of Orion Advisor Services. “These communications provide advisors the opportunity to weave in market commentaries about how current events or a winter storm may or may not impact portfolios.”  

Orion Mail allows advisors to proactively email portfolio values, allocation pie charts, performance and market updates in an automated fashion an advisors would normally pay to print and mail in a statement while still protecting a client’s personally identifiable information.

“These email communications provide a true win-win scenario,” says Clarke. “Advisors cut costs; clients receive information timelier, delivered 100% green.”

5. Trim the Electricity Bill

It’s time to get out of the office. No one wants to spend more time staring at a computer screen than they have to, let alone multiple screens.

Envestnet |Tamarac allows advisors to hand off back-office processes that used to keep the office brightly lit late into the evening.  Each night the Tamarac Advisor Services team downloads, posts and reconciles portfolio positions from different custodians and imports accounts, account holdings and trade data as part of a seamless integration into the various Advisor Xi systems, so when advisors arrive at the office in the morning they can simply sign in and start servicing clients.

“Envestnet |Tamarac is continually improving our technology and adapting our service deliverables to help practices become ever more efficient and scalable,” says Stuart DePina, group president at Envetnet Tamarac. “The dramatic time and resource savings we provide can be reapplied to revenue generating activities like building client relationships and bringing on more assets.”