Behind the scenes: Frequently asked questions about AdviceBridge
The AdviceBridge platform is revolutionising how advice firms serve their clients, improve efficiencies, and reduce costs. If you’ve ever wondered how it works, and what that could mean for your firm, read on to discover the answers to the questions advice firms most commonly ask.
What does the AdviceBridge platform do?
AdviceBridge does so many things but in a nutshell, it turns advisers into superhuman advisers! For wealth and advice firms it automates the advice process, saving them time and money. For consumers it provides an upfront figure of what they’ll get in retirement, what they can spend now and what value is provided by working with a financial adviser in terms of tax and cost savings.
Further, it automates the advice process through linking and automating an advice firm’s existing technology with their back office and providing two-way integration into the AdviceBridge platform. It uses an advanced, system-driven cashflow forecasting technology that provides consumers with their income and retirement figures, enabling them to review their financial plan digitally and test different scenarios themselves.
Who is the target market?
AdviceBridge is primarily designed to support advisers, paraplanners, and administrators in advice and wealth firms.
How does the technology integrate with current back-office systems and technology?
The platform integrates with existing technology systems using a “private” application programming interface (API), providing two-way integration. A lot of APIs in the market are not private, which typically means that they don’t provide the full functionality required by the provider because it restricts the data fields that are available. As a result, the advice firm would usually have to implement workarounds.
Could it replace any of the software we might already be using? If so, how and why is AdviceBridge better?
AdviceBridge can certainly replace some of your existing software if you’d like it to (although it doesn’t have to).
One element that can be replaced and improved upon is the fact-find. The AdviceBridge solution uses psychological techniques that help to engage consumers by feeding back information to them as they go through the journey. It can be done independently by a prospective client without any prior interaction with the advice firm.
Another is our unique cashflow planning system. Unlike others on the market that require advisers to “drive” them, the AdviceBridge system runs scenarios and works out the best solution for the client automatically. This saves time and allows cashflow planning to be provided to every single client, not just those that can afford it.
Ultimately, it’s the advice engine that is unique and sets AdviceBridge apart, which you can read more about in the next question.
Additionally, the core technology on the AdviceBridge platform (the “advice engine”) is something that firms don’t currently have. This means that, rather than replacing anything, it’s likely that this will be in addition to the technology systems you are already using.
How does it work?
There are three core parts of the AdviceBridge solution:
- Adviser system
- Advice engine
- Consumer system
The proprietary advice engine can analyse a client’s holdings across general investment accounts (GIAs), ISAs, and pensions in much the same way that a paraplanner or adviser would. However, where it would usually take hours to do this manually, the system can do this in seconds.
If you’d like to introduce more choice, such as multiple platforms, investment managers or products, the system can also undertake much more complicated analysis that would normally take days or weeks to accomplish. Following the analysis, it instantly produces a recommendation report, without the need for any human input – no templates, no re-keying.
It can do exactly the same for annual and interim reviews, cutting hours if not days from these processes.
In fact, a typical advice firm takes anywhere between 25 and 35 hours to onboard a prospective client. Using AdviceBridge this can be reduced to under five hours – a time cost saving of over 80%.
How can I use it to improve my business?
There are multiple ways AdviceBridge could help you to improve your business.
The main improvement is the reduction of the time spent by administrators, paraplanners, and advisers in undertaking non-essential tasks. It can cut the typical time of 25 to 35 hours to under 5 hours to onboard a client, and the associated cost, which according to NextWealth is £1,543, down to below £500.
This enables firms to improve their profit margin while also bringing the barriers to entry for advice down. Firms can then appeal to a wider range of clients and build a more robust business for the future.
AdviceBridge also allows firms to serve a greater number of clients. A recent example of such efficiency was given by an adviser who had expanded his client base from 100 to 300, adding that he could easily take that to 500.
It also helps advice firms to appeal to customers more from the outset as the solution provides consumers with feedback including the three key pieces of information they want to know upfront, and through the onboarding journey.
The significant reduction in the number of touchpoints and removing things like the re-keying of information and workarounds previously adopted, not only improves staff morale, but it also reduces the number of errors.
A significant benefit is in automating the time-consuming task of analysing the client’s holdings and producing an annual review or recommendation report. The paraplanner is not required at all for this task or to assess which wrap platform, tax wrappers, investment firms or investment solutions the client should go into. The advice engine undertakes this whole task in seconds – a truly unique proposition.
Much of the above is supported by our “cashflow” product which can automatically run multiple strategies and scenarios to calculate the monthly income available to the client today and in retirement. Unlike other cashflow tools, which are adviser driven and require time and understanding to use, uniquely, AdviceBridge does this automatically and looks at the best outcome for the consumer.
Reports can be generated automatically with no need to copy and paste, another unique time-saving benefit. Again, this solution cuts the time and monotonous tasks of all those involved in the process, leaving more time to focus on much more relevant tasks.
AdviceBridge can also help address the other big issues that advice firms have of knowing how best to digitise the various pieces of stand-alone software they have adopted over the years, which typically don’t integrate with one another.
We also developed an engaging fact-find process using psychological techniques to overcome many of the issues faced by traditional fact-find questionnaires. This involves giving immediate feedback as consumers enter their information, which again sets us apart from those promoting stand-alone fact-finding tools.
Utilising our private two-way integration with your back office also cuts down on re-keying and removes the need for workarounds. It also provides greater management information, which is another common bug bear for advisers.
How does it improve workflow?
The AdviceBridge platform doesn’t use a step-by-step workflow, but instead it assigns tasks to the adviser or consumer automatically, so they don’t have to manually follow a process. It’s much easier and more intuitive to use than traditional workflow software.
How involved is the cashflow modelling element of AdviceBridge? What makes it better than other options out there?
Many of the points already mentioned are supported by our “cashflow” product. This can automatically run multiple strategies and scenarios to calculate the monthly income available to the client to spend now, and what they will receive in retirement.
It’s unique because it does this automatically and looks at the best outcome for the consumer, unlike all other cashflow tools, which are adviser-driven and require time and understanding to use.
How should I introduce the idea to clients and help them engage with it?
AdviceBridge can be introduced to your clients with a link, in much the same way as starting a typical fact-find process. However, this link can be embedded into your webpage so that prospective clients can start the journey themselves.
Helpfully, the conversion rate is significantly higher than traditional fact-find methods as it is engaging and provides the client with key information upfront.
What does the sign-up and onboarding process involve for clients?
The sign-up process is very straightforward. Your prospective client could even take themselves through the guidance journey and sign up to the relevant service automatically (or if you prefer, with manual interaction). It’s incredibly simple and intuitive.
Can I sign up for a trial before committing to buy? What does the sign-up and onboarding process involve for advice firms?
Yes – AdviceBridge supports firms in better understanding the system and trialling it, through a series of online demos and access to a (restricted) trial system.
We do all the set-up for you, including white-labelling and tailoring the messaging, along with uploading relevant information such as platforms, wrappers, and investment solutions. We then provide ongoing support to help you make the most of the system.
What are the likely cost savings?
It’s difficult to say exactly what the cost savings could be because it depends on your firm’s business model, the number of clients and how you plan to use the platform.
Given the typical time of 25 to 35 hours to onboard a client, at a cost of £1,543, this can potentially be reduced to below £500.
Firms could reduce their charges while still increasing their profit, or reduce the charge in line with the cost saving. So, depending on your circumstances, your cost saving could range from zero to £1,000 per client.
There are lots of other savings in terms of annual reviews and ongoing monitoring too.
You may also find that you could reduce staff costs, with fewer support and admin staff being required for each front office member of staff. One recent example was a firm which was able to reduce the ratio from 2.55 to 0.7.
And what about business returns and profitability?
It’s equally tricky to answer the question of business returns and profitability but, using the example from above, the increased profit could be up to £1,000 a client.
The efficiency enables advisers to deal with more clients. Again, a recent example is an adviser who expanded his client base from around 100 to 300, saying that he could easily take that to 500.
Additionally, one firm, having undertaken the implementation to meet their needs, saw some overwhelmingly positive results with assets under management (AUM) growing by 110% and net profits increasing by 30%.
Who are your competitors?
The unique features and functionality of the AdviceBridge platform mean there is no real competition on the main advice market at present due to the capabilities and functionality that the system provides, both for advisors and consumers.
While there are a couple of companies in the market, they tend to focus on targeting large wealth managers and national firms at the top end of the corporate space who have tens if not hundreds of thousands to spend on their systems. One recent entrant in the advice market is still developing its functionality and integrations but does not offer the consumer functionality we see all others lacking.
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