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Advisors keen on client portal applications

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Client portal applications have gained in popularity over the past several years, and 76% of the 600 financial advisors who took part in Financial Planning’s 2015 tech survey said that they offer one.

Overall, the most popular offerings are those provided by a firm’s custodian or broker-dealer, followed by products from Morningstar, eMoney and Albridge.

EMoney appeals to younger advisors, especially those 25 to 34. Advisors 55 and older were significantly less likely than their peers to say they offer any portal to their clients.

Among registered investment advisers, the custodial client portal is also the most popular, but eMoney only trails by 1.6%. But client portal adoption among the independents trailed the overall group.

Surprisingly, almost 36% of independent RIA firms said that they don’t offer a client portal.

The CRM Equation
Customer relationship management applications ranked second, behind financial planning software, as the technology with the biggest business impact and the greatest return on investment among respondents.

The reasons are multi-fold.

A CRM application often serves as an advisory firm’s hub. The software acts as the central repository for all client information and tracks tasks and assignments made to different advisors.

A good CRM program can also automate workflows, which improves speed and efficiency. And if CRM software is properly configured and used appropriately, it can provide useful business intelligence that can further enhance productivity and profitability.

For example, many CRM products for advisors offer business intelligence dashboards. These display important business metrics such as assets under management by advisor, revenue per client, profitability by advisor and by client, the average age of the client base, and a good deal more.

Yet more than 21% of respondents said that they use Microsoft’s Outlook as their CRM. Because Outlook isn’t true CRM software, the implication is that a substantial group of advisors don’t fully appreciate what a real CRM system can do and aren’t reaping the ROI that it can provide.

Among our more enlightened respondents, Redtail and Salesforce were the most popular choices.

Wealthbox CRM, a relatively new entrant to the market, started to make its presence felt this year. It garnered a 2% share, up from 1.2% last year. But among independent RIAs, it grabbed a 4.2% share.

Wealthbox also scored very well with firms under $25 million in AUM, as did Redtail. This should come as no surprise, as both vendors offer industry-specific products that are priced very aggressively.

Read more about the tech survey tomorrow, when we look at managing the workflow via technology.

Joel Bruckenstein, a Financial Planning columnist in Miramar, Fla., is co-creator of the Technology Tools for Today conference series and technology guides for advisors, including Technology Tools for Today’s High-Margin Practice. For more information, visit JoelBruckenstein.com.

This story is part of a 30-day series on leading tech trends for advisors. It was originally published on Dec. 1, 2015.

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