Wealth Advisors Struggle With Reporting - Yet Done Right, It Can Strengthen Client Relationships, Build The Firm's Brand, And Reduce Costs

Technology and a Smart Approach are Key, Says Commentary from InvestEdge

Jul 07, 2015, 11:41 ET from InvestEdge, Inc.

BALA CYNWYD, Pa., July 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Generating client reports is the Achilles Heel for many investment advisors and their firms: a time-consuming, last-minute scramble that kills productivity, reflects badly on the firm and fails to answer the client's most important questions.

But a better approach is possible: Smart advisors are using technology and taking a strategic approach in order to turn reporting into a cost-efficient, business-building tool that enhances the brand and strengthens client relationships. How to take a better approach to reporting – how to transform it from a burden to a brand-enhancer that creates better ties with clients, while drastically reducing costs – is the focus of "Reporting – the 'Secret Sauce' that Delivers Better Productivity and Stronger Client Relationships," a commentary published by InvestEdge.

According to the commentary, client reporting is a challenge for many firms – but done right, it can be an important showcase for the firm's thinking and the client value it creates.

"In too many cases, a client report is done 'on the fly,' for example, just ahead of an unexpected client meeting," says Brian Burns, President and Chief Operating Officer of InvestEdge. "Advisors pull information from existing spreadsheets and presentations, cobbling it together rapidly. The end product looks improvised and appears generic – it fails to help or impress the client.  And the time advisors spend on the process costs the firm money, because they are pulled away from work that might do more good for more clients.

"Fortunately, there's an alternative," Burns adds. "Savvy firms and advisors are finding that by choosing the right technology and setting the right strategic goals, reporting can become a showcase for the firm's thinking. Reporting can help clients understand their total investment picture. The report can build both the brand and the relationship. And the cost is much lower – as much as 40 percent lower – because effective use of technology makes the reporting process much more efficient."

The commentary suggests a far-sighted approach – one that considers reporting as part of a bigger challenge – information delivery, and focuses on a big-picture question: How do clients want and need to get information, now and in the future, and what's the best way to get it to them?

Advisors Need to Think About Both the Report and the Technology Behind It

Effective reporting is a mix of investment insight and good use of technology, the commentary says. Advisors need to think in equal measure about:

  • The quality of the report: It needs to be clear, compelling, timely and easy to read, with a clear focus on high-level investment recommendations and a clear sense of the firm's viewpoint and approach.
  • The quality of the technology: Simplest is best – either a single IT platform or a small number, integrated so that advisors can pull together the most important information in a full clicks. A set of templates should be available, so the information and insight can be transferred easily into a simple, professional report format.

The right IT solution makes the report more insightful and professional, and it drastically reduces the time spent on production, leading to cost savings and productivity gains, the report says.

The goal is a report that:

  • Is accurate, accessible, attractive, and actionable.
  • Keeps the clients' needs in the forefront.
  • Covers the complete investment picture – reporting on all the client's assets, no matter where they are housed.

Reporting should help establish the advisor and the firm as the 'alpha advisor' – the one that clients rely on for the most strategic advice about their total investment picture, no matter where the assets are held, the commentary says.

Questions Firms Should Ask Themselves about Productivity, Technology and the Reporting Process

The commentary suggests that firms concerned about the impact of their current reporting systems run a cost-benefit analysis to explore the time and manpower involved in reporting.  It adds that cost savings of 20 to 40 percent are possible in a streamlined system. 

According to the commentary, firms and advisors that want to think about reporting more strategically should start with the following questions:

  • Are we spending enough time with clients?
  • What do your clients expect from us when it comes to reporting?
  • Are we meeting their expectations?
  • What do we need to improve in terms of timeless and convenience? Customizability? Actionability of information? Scope of advice?
  • Do we need to change our work habits? Our IT platform?
  • What steps do we need to take to get from here to there?

A second set of questions points the way to an effective reporting system, one that is simple (based on a few, highly integrated IT platforms), customizable, flexible, timely, attractive, effective in conveying the firm's branding, and easy for advisors to use.

"Taking this systematic approach to the challenge will help ensure that the reporting system truly functions as a business-building tool for the firm," Mr. Burns says.

About InvestEdge, Inc. 
InvestEdge is a leading provider of innovative advisor solutions to banks, HNW registered investment advisors, family offices, and brokerage firms. Founded in June of 2000, InvestEdge is now used by 111 investment firms that collectively manage assets totaling more than $945 billion and remains to be one of the fastest-growing providers of wealth management solutions to the U.S. UHNW and HNW advisor market.  Through an integrated wealth management platform, InvestEdge automates key front-office functions including portfolio management, performance measurement, client communications and reporting, compliance monitoring, trade automation, data aggregation, and client portal solutions.

To learn more, visit http://www.investedge.com or call 1-800-830-1839.

SOURCE InvestEdge, Inc.