Technology is reducing the amount of paper piling up in advisor offices, but apparently not the headaches.
That was the sentiment revealed in a recent survey of advisors, who seem to be still waiting for the "holy grail" of computerized solutions for their practices. The problem, they say, is that technology creates, as well as solves, operational problems.
Topping the list of advisor frustrations with technology, according to the survey, was the difficulty in integrating client information from a myriad of sources. This was closely followed by what they feel is an inability to get different sets of software tools to work in unison.
The study, conducted by the Pyramid research firm in Forest Hills, N.Y., was released by the Financial Planning Association (FPA) with the help of several sponsor financial service companies. The report summarizes the online survey responses of 986 financial planners.
One of the sponsors claims the problems cited by advisors have been, and will continue, to be alleviated by new technologies.
"This is a never-ending quest the industry is getting better at," says Harry Groom, president and CEO of AdvisorCentral, a data aggregator and co-sponsor of the study. "You're still going to have this continuing quest of enabling software packages to talk to one another."
Advisors, it would seem, agree that more work is needed. The survey found that 75% felt integration of account information was a problem. It also found that 65% cited software integration as a problem, and 50% felt the constant need to upgrade software was a source of frustration. The need to remember multiple passwords was noted by 29% of respondents.
Advisors say the inability to integrate data and software creates work, and cuts down on productivity. They say, for example, that the inability to electronically download data into programs requires them to manually type in the information. Typing client data into separate computer programs that can't communicate with one another was cited as a similar problem.
More than half of advisors say they have difficulties providing clients with integrated statements that include all their investable assets, including those they don't manage.
The author of the study says part of the problem may be that advisors aren't aware of some of the integration solutions that are available.