Planners using an ecosystem of tech services for client engagement: 2016 Planning Software Benchmarking Report

Leading research firm Investment Trends has released its 2016 Planning Software Benchmarking Report, an in-depth study of the comprehensive planning applications used by Australia’s financial planners. The report benchmarks the key functionality of each application, and is a survey of the direction of application development for financial planners and licensees.

IRESS’s XPLAN is the leading 2016 Australian financial planning application for the 10th year in succession. AdviserNETgain is the top ranked hybrid application for 2016 with Decimal the leading intra-fund advice application. The 2016 innovation award was given to XPLAN for introducing native digital document signing functionality.

Key highlights include:

  • XPLAN continues to lead planning application functionality development
  • Planning practices are turning to an ecosystem of services to support engagement
  • The comprehensive advice model is being disrupted by compliance automation

XPLAN continues to lead planning application functionality development

XPLAN has recorded the biggest lead in application functionality over other comprehensive planning applications in the twelve years of the Investment Trends Planning Software Benchmark report.

“Australian comprehensive planning applications have their origin in the first generation of fintech developers,” said Investment Trends analyst Ian Webster. “They are now mature planning business applications that generate almost all of the regulated advice delivered to Australians.”

“IRESS continues to lead the Australian comprehensive planning application development community with an active program of enhancements, refinements and new functionality.”

Improving usability, risk product comparison, opt-in processing at scale and platform integration were the focus of planning development in 2016. XPLAN became the first planning application to support native digital document signing.

Our latest benchmarking study also found planning application developers are configuring their applications for different advice markets, such as licenced accountants and superannuation funds, and supporting a full-service approach to planning technology delivery, adding installation, configuration, training and data services to software provision.

Planning practices are using an ecosystem of tech services to support client engagement

While comprehensive planning practices use one of the six applications covered in the benchmarking report for advice generation, new wealth advisory and millennial practices are looking to CRM and workflow systems, onboarding applications, personal cashflow and fintech engagement tools to use with advice generation applications.

“Integrated services and data are becoming important to planners developing new client service value propositions,” said Webster. “This is providing opportunities for a new generation of wealth fintech developers to provide services that complement comprehensive planning applications.”

The benchmark report shows most planning practices are already using digital technology to support their online presence. Planning practices are moving from just having a website to online digital client engagement, including financial literacy content, a blog, a contact form, google analytics, and Facebook and LinkedIn social media channels.

Adoption of digital and social media continues to develop with about a third of practices supporting client login, video content and more social media channels. About 20% of practices are actively engaged with outbound and inbound client marketing using social media advertising services and eBooks.

The comprehensive advice model is being disrupted by compliance automation

The next generation planning applications will begin to be deployed in 2017 from both established and new fintech developers. For the first time in 2016, the number of new client scaled advice SOAs was larger than number of comprehensive SOAs.

The comprehensive advice model using advice generation applications to support advice processes and delivery is being disrupted by digital advice development.

Compliance automation is the developers’ response to their clients’ search for more efficient advice processes and new advice business models. Next generation planning applications and new fintech developers are developing automation for strategic advice, most aspects of investment advice, SMSF advice and all aspects of superannuation intra-fund advice.

“Next generation advice applications are responding to the demand for more advice process efficiency with compliance automation,” said Webster. “Automation will disrupt the comprehensive advice model and replace it with a package of single issue advice services distributed in time, more suited to providing advice services to a broader market.”

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