Reviewing two apps that make it easier for advisers to work remotely

If you enjoy the convenience of an iPad, this pair of apps can help save countless hours

Mar 9, 2016 @ 4:25 pm

By Sheryl Rowling

+ Zoom

I'm often on the road and usually do some work in the evenings. That means I do a lot of work outside of the office. Yet, as busy as I am, I have to admit that I'm kind of lazy and impatient. I don't like lugging out my laptop, waiting for it to boot up and dealing with a large piece of equipment on a plane or couch.

Which is why I love my iPad. It's light, it requires no boot-up time, it's easy. But what was frequently inconvenient was the near impossible task of accessing Microsoft tools without resorting to online versions. That is, until I found a cool free app called WPS Office. It's essentially a suite of Microsoft-compatible programs in one single iPad app. The app includes:

-a word-processing program (compatible with Microsoft Word)

-Spreadsheet function (compatible with Excel)

-Presentation software (compatible with PowerPoint)

-PDF tools (compatible with Adobe)

-File sharing using Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive and WebDAV

-Printing with wireless access

As a fully functioning suite of office tools, WPS Office allows me to do everything on my iPad that formerly would have required a desktop or laptop computer.

(Related read: The coming wave of adviser tech convergence)

My other favorite app is Good Notes. This $7.99 app gives you the ability to manipulate or create any type of document. You can import photos, PDFs, Word docs, or Excel spreadsheets. You can also start with a blank page — portrait or landscape, lined or plain. From there, you can add text boxesl; hand write, draw or add notes; convert handwriting to text; highlight sections and move or delete sections. The writing options include different-color inks and writing-tool widths, different-color highlighters and highlighter-tool widths, and an eraser. You can also add shapes automatically as well as rearrange or add/delete pages.

Although you can use your finger, I prefer a stylus that syncs with the program (like Bamboo). This enables greater accuracy and prevents your resting hand from making superfluous marks.

What makes this app so great is that it eliminates the need for a printer or fax machine on the road. I can upload a contract into Good Notes, then sign it and email it back directly from the app. I can receive a PowerPoint presentation from a staff member, write notes and edits directly onto the document — and, again, I can email it right back. Another plus is the automatic syncing of documents to all your Apple devices.

If you like, or need, to work outside of your office and enjoy the convenience of your iPad, I highly recommend these two apps. They have saved me countless hours and frustration.

Sheryl Rowling is head of rebalancing solutions at Morningstar Inc. and principal at Rowling & Associates. She considers herself a non-techie user of technology.

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