What is the biggest challenge you face today as a financial planner?
[Lee] I joined Parkgate two weeks before we went into lockdown in March. Although I have advised in the past, I have spent the last 10 years supporting the development of adviser firms across the UK. Having no clients of my own, I inherited a client bank at Parkgate and completely expected to go and meet each one face-to-face, because, for me, financial services has always been about face-to-face advice. The biggest challenge for me and clients was adapting to the new world.
The first thing I had to do was educate clients to meet on platforms like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. This has also helped many of them connect with family and friends in a way they had never done before. Going back into advice, I’ve been surprised and pleased with the number of recommendations from clients I’ve only met ‘virtually’.
[Gareth] Incredibly, 2020 has been a better year for me in terms of the number of client referrals I have received than I did during 2019. We have helped clients to adapt exceptionally well to the new environment, in terms of meeting digitally, using electronic signatures, online live cash flow planning, risk profiling and reviews. Getting new business out of existing clients has actually been easier and far more efficient than historically.
[Lee] I think one advantage of meeting people on video, is you have a wealth of data and analysis you can share straight away, at the touch of a button, which you wouldn’t have face-to-face, because it’s not as practical.
Using Dynamic Planner as an example, you can share your screen and positioned in the right way, clients can get very involved and the process can be even more engaging in many ways.
Why did you first adopt Dynamic Planner, as a firm?
[Gareth] We began using Dynamic Planner in the summer of 2019. We wanted to strengthen the service clients received to be a completely consistent, end-to-end journey which they could engage in, understand and follow far easier than different pieces of the financial planning jigsaw not being as joined-up. This, aligned to Dynamic Planner’s vision, has led us on to introducing other areas to clients as they have been evolved and released, which clients have continued to engage with and benefit from.
We rebranded as a firm, in March 2020, so this summer we put all of that same imagery – from our website and client brochures – into Dynamic Planner’s Client Review and risk profile reports, so there is consistency for clients across the different touch points they have with us as a business. That functionality in Dynamic Planner is great, allowing you to brand reports exactly as you want them. Using Dynamic Planner’s Client Review tool certainly makes the team we have producing them more efficient.
What are the big benefits, for your firm, of using Dynamic Planner?
[Lee] Accurately ascertaining a client’s attitude to risk is a crucial step in the advice process. Using Dynamic Planner, you can tell as an adviser that the client just gets it, understands it and is happy with the outcome. Being able to get a client’s latest valuation for their portfolio and then be able to show them three scenarios – ‘Plan for this’ but ‘Be prepared for this’ etc. – really brings it home for the client.
[Gareth] To be able to have a review meeting with a client, which has been ‘virtual’ this year, share your screen with them, and then take them through their attitude to risk ‘live’ and then through their annual review report Dynamic Planner builds for you, means clients are completely engaged with the entire review process. The ability to almost go end-to-end for a review within one system and produce one report is great.
Echoing what Lee said about the different scenarios, people this year have naturally been more focused on what would happen if markets downturn and their portfolio falls in value, which we refer to as their capacity for loss. The Dynamic Planner process allows us to personalise this for every client and make it completely relevant to their circumstances.
As the client’s entire portfolio information is stored in the system, the real potential £’s lost is displayed, helping them fully understand their capacity for loss and the risk being taken within their portfolio.
What might life have been like, at your firm, without Dynamic Planner this year?
[Gareth] If we hadn’t had Dynamic Planner in 2020, it would not have been as easy for us to adapt to the impact of the pandemic and continue to deliver a first-class service to our clients. Having an end-to-end Attitude to Risk, flowing through to annual review reporting and now cash flow planning, has enabled us to continue to deliver an interactive, engaging service to our clients in a remote-meeting environment.
Would you recommend Dynamic Planner to a fellow advice firm?
[Both] Yes, definitely.