Is manual cashflow software a thing of the past?
Cashflow planning is one of the most important tools in financial planning. Indeed, FTAdvisor reports that 92% of advisers believe it to be the most useful thing to share with a client.
Its benefits are wide-ranging for advisers. As well as helping them to demonstrate the value of advice to clients (88% of advisers cited this as a benefit), it also helps to illustrate how significant market movements could affect their clients’ future plans (according to 92% of advisers).
But are the systems that most advisers use to deliver this service becoming significantly outdated?
Clients who have access to cashflow planning reap the benefits
It’s not just advisers whose work is made significantly easier by cashflow planning; clients also find the activity illuminating.
When clients approach a financial planner, their first question is usually “when can I afford to retire?”, followed closely by “how much can I afford to spend now, and how much will I be able to spend in retirement?”
Both these questions can be answered by an in-depth cashflow forecast. The graphs and illustrations that your software generates give a visual representation of the client’s expected retirement savings and any potential shortfalls that need to be addressed.
An added benefit of the model is that it can be tweaked to uncover how different approaches might affect the plan.
What if your client chose to draw an income from an ISA before they access their pension, or what might happen if they were unable to work because of a period of ill health and had to reduce their pension contributions?
“What ifs” like these can weigh on a client’s mind, so mapping them out and illustrating the effects of these on a cashflow forecast can be extremely helpful for removing worry and ensuring they feel confident about the future.
Manual cashflow planning is holding firms back from helping more clients
Despite all of these positive effects, the fact remains that the majority of advisers (around 66%) aren’t offering cashflow planning to all of their clients, or they’re only completing it once a year or less.
Firstly, the person using the system, whether that’s an adviser or a paraplanner, needs to understand how to operate that particular piece of software as well as understanding the scenarios to test.
Primarily it takes too much time and is therefore too costly to manually enter the vast amounts of data required and run multiple scenarios.
This time pressure causes a number of issues:
- It takes too long to dispense advice to clients, since one session is needed to gather the required data, and another is needed to talk through the results and outcomes.
- Manually entering data increases the chances that you will make an error.
- There is too much information to communicate to clients, much of which is often overcomplicated and difficult for clients to interpret.
- Advisers can sometimes find it tricky to manage a client’s expectations when explaining the assumptions that they have made while producing the forecast. If a client misunderstands the likelihood of an outcome, this could cause problems later down the line.
- Of course, the longer an adviser needs to spend collating, analysing, and presenting data, the higher the cost of delivery. This means that cashflow planning is often restricted to the wealthiest clients, even though clients with smaller budgets will arguably extract more benefit from this activity.
Automated cashflow planning is the future of advice
The good news is that cashflow forecasting needn’t be the preserve of the very wealthy – automated tools are helping advice firms to bring the software to a wider range of clients.
The AdviceBridge platform is designed to address the fundamental challenges that are holding advisers back from offering cashflow planning to all of their clients, and it does this in a range of different ways.
The AdviceBridge platform’s cashflow planning tool is fully automated, removing the need to manually enter data or calculations. When your advisers are released from having to complete these repetitive admin tasks, they can spend more time building the relationship with the client and dispensing valuable advice.
Automatically run scenarios without the need for human input
Once the platform has collated the required data, it can quickly and easily run dozens of different scenarios simultaneously. This maps out those “what ifs” you read about earlier that can weigh so heavily on a client’s mind.
While this can take hours or days for an adviser to do manually, the AdviceBridge platform can do this in seconds, reducing the cost of delivery as well as minimising the likelihood of errors.
Illustrates the forecast in an easy-to-read format
Automated cashflow planning software doesn’t just make the calculations more quickly, but it can also present the data in the most user-friendly format possible. Your clients will have access to their financial plan through their own dashboard and can quickly see the answers to their questions about how much they will have to spend in retirement and what they can spend today.
The software can also present the probability of outcomes and risk suitability. This helps clients to understand how different factors may affect the forecast being presented and how likely their desired outcome is to happen.
Client dashboard and adviser notifications allow updated plans when necessary
Automating data collection isn’t just helpful for the creation of a cashflow plan. It can also help you to understand when a new forecast is needed as clients can easily update their details when their circumstances change.
An unexpected inheritance or a redundancy payout can sometimes mean that an existing forecast is no longer accurate. Rather than waiting until the next year, or even the next life milestone to review the plan you’ve made, your client can enter information about their change in circumstances to their dashboard. You’ll be alerted of the change and can make an informed decision about when to check in with your client.
Even better, once the client has entered the details, the AdviceBridge platform can automatically update the forecast without you needing to be involved.
Reduced costs make the software accessible to all clients
When cashflow planning is automated, the cost of delivering this vital service is dramatically reduced. This means that you can afford to offer it to all your clients, regardless of their budget. As a result, you give more people the opportunity to achieve financial wellbeing and the retirement they dream of.
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As you can see, the challenges that plague manual cashflow planning mean that automated systems really are the future of advice.