January 19, 2012

Tech tools to increase your efficiency in advisory process

Sadique Neelgund

People are often fond of gadgets. Gadgets can make life easier and more fun. The popularity of the I-Phone & I-Pad, for instance, is proof of how a cleverly marketed gadget can capture the imagination of the consumer. In the financial service world, there are numerous examples of gadgets that may be used by financial advisors. From desktop tools to software to peripheral equipment, there are a variety of such items from which advisors can choose. The challenge is finding those tools that can actually improve the efficiency of the financial advisor instead of creating an unnecessary distraction.

One tool that could prove to be an inexpensive way to boost collaboration among staff in an office is Evernote (www.evernote.com). Evernote is a great note taking tool that is free, unless you upgrade to the Premium edition. You’re always moving, your notes should be too. With Evernote, your memories are on every computer, phone and device you use. Save entire webpages to your Evernote account with their nifty browser extensions. You get the whole page: text, images and links. Share your notes and collaborate on projects with colleagues and others on a permissioned basis.

With Evernote, all of your notes, web clips, files and images are made available on every device and computer you use. Additionally, Evernote integrates with Microsoft Outlook and permits you to be able to capture all or just part of an email with the click of a button for saving and sharing. Also, Evernote can capture voice notes for later playback, for those times when typing on a computer, laptop or phone device is just not convenient.

As a collaboration tool, Evernote can provide a communication sharing venue for quick notes, ideas, concepts and/or images that can be shared with others for discussion and/or collaboration. Often, attempting to text instructions to staff while on the go can be time consuming and frustrating, depending on the device used. With Evernote, details can be quickly and efficiently disseminated to staff.

One of the more difficult aspects of client meetings for advisors is trying to listen to what the client is saying while attempting to take accurate notes. There are two tools that could prove useful in this endeavor. The first is using a digital recording device that is compatible with voice recognition software. Typically, these two items are bundled. Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking (www.nuance.com) offers such a bundle. Its latest software edition boasts no training required for up to 99% levels of accuracy.

However, it should be pointed out that, if you already own or have recently upgraded your operating system to Windows 7, there is voice recognition software already included in the Windows 7 software that rivals the accuracy of Dragon. As an example, you might decide to use a laptop in a client meeting; it could be configured to capture and show the text conversion during the meeting. Uses of recording devices in client meetings are subject to privacy rules and may be prohibited by compliance rules imposed by your broker dealer. Check for such rules prior to use and in every case, the client’s permission should be obtained.

The second tool, in this regard, is a digital pen. Digital pens can capture whatever you write and transform it into text in a computer. There are two models worth checking out. One is Livescribe (www.livescribe.com). The Livescribe Echo SmartPen offers the ability to write notes and then transform them into text on a computer. It also has an audio capability, so that you may be able to not only write your notes, but capture the audio for later conversion to text. Livescribe can come bundled with Evernote and is fully compatible with Evernote (mentioned earlier). Livescribe Echo requires the use of a special grid paper.

For this reason, you wish to check out another digital pen from Logipen (www.logipen.com). Logipen advertises that it can be used with any paper, by clipping a device onto the pad of paper you might be using, instead of the use of grid paper. Logipen does not have the audio capability, but at half the price of Livescribe, is certainly worth checking out.

More and more, advisors are using the IPad tablet computer as an efficiency tool. Paired with the IPhone, it can be helpful as a data collector and display device. As a processing tool, it is limited in its ability to compete with a full-featured laptop. And, until recently, the storage capacity of the IPad was a serious impediment. However, Apple has now introduced the ICloud. iCloud is more than a hard drive in the sky. It makes it quick and effortless to access just about everything on the devices you use every day. iCloud automatically and securely stores content so it’s always available to your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC. It gives you access to your documents, music, applications, latest photos, and more from whichever device you happen to be using. And it keeps your email, contacts, and calendars up to date across all your devices. No syncing required. No management required. In fact, no anything required. iCloud does it all for you. When you sign up for iCloud, you automatically get 5GB of free storage. And that’s plenty of room, because of the way iCloud stores your content.

If you do not like or want to go the Apple route, no worries as both Microsoft and Google offer competing products (that have been around longer, by the way). Microsoft offers Office Live (with SkyDrive) and Google Docs was the first of the online storage solutions.

Whether you choose the Apple product or others, the concept is the same. Documents and information are stored online for easy retrieval and sharing. Other pure storage solutions that auto sync with various devices are such notables as Dropbox, NetDocuments, Family Office Network, and Sugar Sync. Again, though, these solutions may be subject to compliance rules and/or regulatory restrictions.

With any of the aforementioned devices, gadgets, tools or software, a pivotal question should be asked before going out and purchasing or obtaining the item. The question you should be asking yourself is: how is this solution going to benefit my client and/or my practice? Often, simply buying the latest fad and then trying to figure out a way to fit it into the operations of a firm is counter-productive and can lead to inefficiency (or a waste of valuable time). First, identify the need and then investigate your options. In the end, you may stand a better chance of making efficient use of the product selected.

Coming Soon…

The Most Practical, Well-Structured & Comprehensive
Financial Planning Education Program in India

An initiative by Network FP


Authored by,

David Lawrence

Global Practice Network
San Diego, USA

4 Thoughts to “Tech tools to increase your efficiency in advisory process”

  1. Hi David,
    Thanks for sharing various tools.
    I would like to share a common problem that we are facing & going to face while buying any good tool.
    If we compare US with India on purchasig power it is almost 1:5. So a cost of $150 per month is like $750 for me – which is by any standard very high. 🙁
    I was looking for some CRM tool & landed on redtail tech after reading its review – they are charging $65 per month, which turns to a huge amount if I convert it in rupees. Similarly for all other products & services.
    Can’t these comaines have diffrential pricing for different countries or areas – India is a big market but at right price 🙂

    • Hi Hemant,

      The President of Redtail is a personal friend. I will bring this issue up with him. I am speaking next month at the Technology Tools for Today conference in Dallas, Texas, USA. This is an excellent point to discuss at that conference. All of the major software players will be there (globally). I will engage a conversation on this topic (international pricing. However, in the interim, there are cheaper solutions (not as good, maybe but cheap). For a CRM software, there is a free version. http://www.sugarcrm.com/Free_Trial. SugarCRM is an open-source project and may be of interest. If you follow the link, you can try it out. I also have other links for additional types of software that are low-cost or free.

      Also, I would love to travel to Mumbai to host a workshop on these kinds of issues and help advisors learn how to overcome them. Any suggestions on this are greatly appreciated.


      Dr. David L. Lawrence, RFC, AIF
      Co-founder and President
      Global Practice Network

  2. Mohsin Bijepuri says:

    Dear Dr.David,
    The tools mentioned should be very useful. I am going to start using Evernote right away. Thank you so much for the recommendations. Also for the CRM free tool. Hemant has raised some pertinent points on pricing. Your offer to take it up with the manufacturers is most needed.
    Your offer of holding a workshop is highly welcome. Only issue is we all like it in our city. I am from Chennai, S.India. Please deliberate. Network FP’s Sadique I am sure, can help you in this issue.
    Mohsin Bijapuri

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