New Apple iPad Pro geared toward meeting advisers' business needs

In the wake of Apple's latest product announcement, some advisers consider getting rid of their laptop for a tablet

Sep 10, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

By Alessandra Malito

Apple Inc. unveiled a wide-ranging lineup of new products, including updated iPhones, a revamped TV set-top box for playing games and watching videos, and a bigger iPad designed for business customers.
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Apple Inc. unveiled a wide-ranging lineup of new products, including updated iPhones, a revamped TV set-top box for playing games and watching videos, and a bigger iPad designed for business customers. (Bloomberg News)

In the spirit of fostering better communication with clients, some advisers are considering moving away from laptops and toward tablets, especially after Apple announced its newest product: the iPad Pro.

Some standout features of the tablet, which will be available in November, include its bigger size and accompanying gadgets that users can get at an additional price — for example, the Apple Pencil for $99 and a keyboard for $199. The iPad Pro itself ranges in price from $799 to $1,079.

Advisers say the newest tablet is just what firms need to enhance their advisers' interaction with clients, and could even replace the laptops they have now.

"I like the idea of the tablet having more juice on it and using it as my work machine," said Mark Beaver, a financial adviser at Keeler & Nadler Financial Planning and Wealth Management in Dublin, Ohio. "I don't think I would pull my laptop out during meetings, and instead of having multiple devices, it's combining it all into one."

It will help facilitate adviser-client conversations, too, said Ross Gerber, the president and chief executive of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management in Santa Monica, Calif.

"The laptop is a barrier between you and the client," Mr. Gerber said. "Tablets work really nicely, but the previous iPad was too small to show presentations … this is a huge, amazing tool for advisers moving forward."

The iPad has been a popular tool for many advisers for quite some time, though recently the percentage of those who use Apple's tablet have started to shrink. According to the 2015 InvestmentNews Top Popular Products survey, 65% of the more than 700 advisers surveyed said that they use an iPad, down from the 77.5% of advisers who used the Apple product last year, based on the same sample size.

A few members of the industry took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the reveal led by Apple's CEO Tim Cook.

Josh Nelson, a financial adviser at Keystone Financial Services in Loveland, Colo., said that one of the most annoying parts of the laptop is how long it takes to start up in the morning. The iPad Pro, though a bit larger than a device that he'd expect to carry around everywhere, like he does his phone, reportedly addresses that concern.

There are some issues that advisers might face with replacing their laptops with new tablets, one of which is its incompatibility with certain financial services applications. Advisers worry that, although it has the potential to help them with their workflow and enhance meetings with clients and prospects, they won't be able to use it to its fullest extent because the programs they use do not support the iPad's operating system.

"The business world is still a Windows-based environment," Mr. Nelson said.

While advisers wouldn't have a problem accessing cloud-based applications, like many of the client relationship management (CRM) systems and automated investment advice platforms, the IT departments of some financial services institutions do not support the iPad. Morningstar Office and LPL's enterprise technology are two examples of incompatibility with Apple devices that advisers provided.

Alexa Auerbach, spokeswoman for Morningstar, said that advisers can use the platform on an Apple product if they run Windows Parallels, which allows an Apple system to perform Microsoft applications.

There is a Morningstar for Advisors app that was designed for the iPad as a companion to Morningstar Office. The app presents client portfolio dashboards and reports digitally.

Although advisers said LPL's old platform, Branchnet, was not compatible with iPads, LPL spokesman Brett Weinberg said that in many cases, advisers can access their new system, ClientWorks, on an iPad.

"Even if advisers are [ready for the move], they have to check with firms to make sure it will be compatible," Mr. Nelson said.

Mike Byrnes, founder of Byrnes Consulting, said that in the future, more advisers will be able to hook up their tablets and laptops to a big screen in the office in order to engage clients and prospects. For now, the iPad and competing tablets are still an important piece of an adviser's practice, he said.

"Clients really want to know [the status of their portfolio] in real time," Mr. Byrnes said. "And it helps in a relationship industry to not be behind the times."

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