Orion, Advicent give advisers more control over client reports

Latest updates make it easier for firms to customize reports to exact specifications

Nov 13, 2018 @ 2:41 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

Technology vendors are trying to give advisers more control over client reporting.

Orion Advisor Services announced Tuesday a new version of its Report Builder app. Founder and CEO Eric Clarke called it a full redesign bringing interactive, drag-and-drop capabilities to tweak images and charts, format tables and add custom branding.

The idea is to make it faster, easier and more cost-effective for advisers to access whatever data they need and build a client report tailored to exact specifications.

"Our reporting engine was something we built maybe eight or nine years ago. We were often constrained with the technology tools that we had available. Now we are using the latest, greatest tools," Mr. Clarke said.

In the past, advisers would have to reach out to Orion's programmers to request any design changes. The new app "puts the control of the report back at our advisers' fingertips," Mr. Clarke said.

(More: Is Orion building a financial planning tool?)

In late October, Advicent added similar functionality to the client report editor in its NaviPlan financial planning software. Director of financial planning Tom Burmeister said in addition to helping advisers configure client reports on the fly, it also can help home offices be more responsive to feedback from employees in the field.

Advicent already has about 250 different client reports, but Mr. Burmeister thinks his team would get the same number of client requests if they made 1,000. Each firm has a unique value proposition, and home offices want the ability to make different reports for different client groups, he said. For example, a financial planning report for a mass affluent client could be quite different from the report for a high-net-worth client.

"We could spend the next 10 years cranking out report after report … No one firm could create enough content that would fit every single subtype," Mr. Burmeister said. "Now, we can focus more [research and development] efforts on our core competencies and not have to worry about having to chase an unhittable target."

(More: Advicent's Stich: The third wave of financial planning)

Although both Orion and Advicent are focused primarily on digital innovation, paper reports still have a role to play for modern advisers, Mr. Burmeister said. Physical documents can help provide information that isn't as easy to digest on a computer screen, such as large tables of historical data, and serve a compliance function by memorializing a point in time when advice is given to a client.

Mr. Clarke called Orion's reporting update a "back-to-basics approach" that is still often paper-based and ensures "the foundational layer of our offering is best in class." But that doesn't mean Orion is forgetting its digital products.

Orion also has a new integration with SaleMove to add co-browsing and live chat functionalities to the Orion client portal. Advisers can remotely log in to the portal to help clients navigate their accounts and reports while having a natural dialogue via chat.

"We're trying to use our technology to help simplify and explain to the client what's going on in their account without the noise that's often found in the brokerage statements," Mr. Clarke said.

(More: Schwab abandons plan to build multi-custodial portfolio management tool)

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