Apps for financial advisers to help with time management

Managing emails, scheduling appointments, taking calls and even booking dinner reservations with clients not as time consuming as they once were

Feb 9, 2015 @ 12:01 am

By Alessandra Malito

In a fast-pace world, financial advisers may need a little help with the daily to-do's that keep them away from working with clients or prospecting for new ones.

There are apps for that.

The tasks that almost every financial adviser has — managing emails, scheduling appointments, taking calls and even booking dinner reservations with clients — don't have to be as time consuming as they once were with the help of programs designed with the end-user in mind. There are apps that remind advisers of the emails that they didn't respond to, keep them from being distracted by the Internet and even one that will provide advisers with a “virtual assistant.”

(More: 7 top apps for saving financial advisers time and money)

“When you talk to an adviser, almost without exception, they would love to spend 100% of their time with their clients or with their prospects,” said John Vanderheyden, chief operating officer of NFP Advisor Services in Texas, which focuses on producing solutions in wealth management for wealthy clients and has its own work station tool for advisers that meshes client data with daily functions called AdvisorComplete.

Using apps that target efficiency not only saves time but it provides advisers with the opportunity to focus their attention on the people that matter — their clients.

AVOID THE SCHEDULING PHONE TAG

Russ Thornton, an adviser and founder of Wealthcare for Women in Atlanta, uses ScheduleOnce, an app that allows him to make appointments, at least once a day. Instead of spending a few phone calls back and forth trying to find a date and time that works with all parties involved, the app syncs with the adviser's calendar and can then be sent as a link to a client or prospective client. From there, the client can pick a day and time that works best.

“It prevents a lot of the back and forth emails,” Mr. Thornton said. “It's just a headache saver and time saver in a big way.” His clients like it, too, he says.

The professional plan is $19 a month and provides more than the calendar integration, booking with approval and reminders that the premium plan for $9 provides. It includes booking forms, reports, and website integration too.

DON'T FORGET THAT EMAIL

Sometimes unanswered emails end up at the bottom of the inbox or even disappear altogether. With FollowUp.cc, financial advisers can pick emails they can't immediately respond to and send them to this app. In the designated amount of time they choose, the email will return as a reminder. It also allows advisers to schedule emails ahead of time and tracks when an email has been read. There are a few plans available, but the professional plan provides 2,500 reminders a month, 10GB of attachment support, as well as unlimited open email tracking, for $18 a month.

The basic plan, which is $12 a month, allows 250 reminders a month, 5GB of attachment support and limited open tracking.

With the help of this app advisers may gain something few people have: an empty inbox.

“It's not hard for me to get back to zero,” Mr. Thornton said.

BE PROACTIVE

RescueTime is a time-management app that runs in the background on an adviser's computer. While the adviser goes about his or her business on the computer it tracks how much time is spent on each application and website and at the end of the day provides a report with data on your activity.

There is a free version of the program, which tracks time in websites and applications, sets goals and gives a weekly email report. Then there's a premium plan that can either be $9 a month or $72 for the year, which also gives alerts when goals are achieved, blocks distracting websites to stay focused and has a faster data processing time.

Another app recommended by an adviser is Fancy Hands. This app that provides users with a live virtual assistant to help with such tasks as doing research, making restaurant reservations and doctor appointments, managing schedules and travel itineraries. For $29.99 a month, an adviser can have five requests a month under the basic plan, while the professional plan for $49.99 allows for 15 requests a month.

AN APP SPECIFIC FOR ADVISERS

eMoney Advisor provides overviews, data analytics and goal planning, and integrates with advisers' other systems. Alison Murray, a partner and director of client experience and adviser transition at Snowden Lane Partners in New York, said the app helps their advisers work efficiently.

“As with anything, tech should help, it shouldn't slow them down,” Ms. Murray said. “So really simplifying access points with day to day work flow makes it easier for them to use it and it frees up more of their time to really dealing directly with clients.”

The company has two plans & mdash; emX for $216 a month and emX Pro for $324 a month. Aside from goal planning, aggregation, mobile use, screen sharing and analysis needs that emX provides, emX Pro comes with advanced planning tools.

BROWSE YOUR CRM

If installing and following through in maintaining apps isn't for you, there is another solution financial advisers can use, and they already have it. CRM platforms already have options to manage time and tasks.

Greg Lessard, founder and president of Aspen Leaf Partners in Golden, Colo., isn't one for too many apps. But because he, like many others, needs to manage his time efficiently, he turns to his CRM, which is synced to his calendar and has a task list that he can use to prioritize and rearrange responsibilities.

There's also LaserApp, which is a software that integrates with CRMs like Salesforce and RedTail for filling out forms. Mr. Lessard said it transfers data and takes clients' information from the CRM. From there, he uses DocuSign, which takes the information and applies it right into the online form. DocuSign is $10 a month when paid annually and sends five documents for a single user only. For $20 a month, there is an unlimited amount of documents that can be sent along with company branding. LaserApp is $499 for the first year and $219 for annual renewals.

“For me, I rely heavily on the CRM, its tasks, its calendar, its paperwork stuff. I even do my performance reporting with CRM,” Mr. Lessard said. “I think it makes sense for people to look at their existing stuff first to see if they can use it better.”

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