Tag Archives: Morningstar Advisor

Social CRM for financial advisers: How activity streams will enhance client relationships

Wealthbox CRM wants to deliver "Social CRM" to financial advisers

Wealthbox CRM wants to deliver “Social CRM” to financial advisers

Social CRM for financial advisers ushers in a new paradigm in managing client relationships

Your day begins with quick glance at your mobile device. Open an app and you see that six of your clients are traveling for business, two of them overseas. Another client just revealed that her daughter’s volleyball team won a regional championship.

At first it sounds like you’re checking your Facebook feed. Or perhaps you’re swiping through lists on Twitter.

But in fact, you’re checking your social CRM.

Social CRM for Financial Advisers

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more attract billions of users month after month by aggregating updates from your professional, personal, and social connections.

So why not build the same functionality into CRM software, the technology advisers use the most day after day?

Wealthbox CRM

One startup doing so is New York City-based Gotham Tech Labs with the introduction of Wealthbox CRM.

I reviewed the final beta version of Wealthbox CRM prior to its general release announced at this week’s 2014 T3 Conference and provided my impressions in this month’s Morningstar Advisor column.

So go visit Morningstar Advisor and find out how a social CRM might open up new opportunities in your business.

Image credit: Wealthbox.com

The best financial adviser technology of 2013

Best financial adviser technology of 2013

The best technology of 2013 for financial advisers facilitates check deposits, client risk assessment, and custodian efficiency

I have the privilege (and the pressure!) of assessing the prior year’s technology for financial advisers to determine what I consider to be the best of the best.

2013 proved to be an interesting year, as there were few industry-changing technology introductions overall. Many tech announcements this year consisted of updates to existing technology, such as the expansion of mobile device support or more granular control over trading.

But every year, I select award winners in the following categories: Best Back-Office Technology, Best Client-Facing Technology, and Innovation of the Year.

Wait! I’m going to highlight each award winner in tomorrow’s FPPad Bits and Bytes broadcast, so subscribe for free to get the broadcast emailed to you.

Without further ado, head over to Morningstar Advisor right now to see my selections for the Best Tech for Advisers, 2013 edition!

FPPad Bits and Bytes for August 30

On this week’s broadcast, Laser App unveils new integrations to speed up your form processing, LPL Financial rolls out new technology to its representatives, how one-page websites might be your answer to stand out in today’s crowded marketplace, and more. So get ready, Bits and Bytes begins now.

(Watch on YouTube) This week’s edition of Bits and Bytes is brought to you by Redtail Technology, providers of cloud-based CRM for financial professionals since 2003.

Redtail Technology

Check out their popular advisor solutions and sign up for a 30-day free trial. Visit fppad.com/redtail for more information.

Here are the links to this week’s top stories:

Filling Out Forms No Longer a Pain in the App for Busy Advisors from Laser App and TDAmeritrade

[Leading off is an update on Laser App, the form-filling software provider, who held its annual broker-dealer conference last week in San Diego.At last year’s conference, Laser App unveiled Laser App Anywhere, a cloud-based version of its software that can create account forms in the cloud and on a variety of mobile devices. But Laser App Anywhere was only made available to broker-dealers and their affiliated representatives. That is, until now.

At the conference last week, Laser App announced that TD Ameritrade Institutional will be the first custodian to offer Laser App Anywhere to advisors through the Veo advisor platform. This means that independent advisors who custody with TD Ameritrade Institutional will be able to leverage Laser App Anywhere to simplify their form creation and account opening processes.

In addition, TD Ameritrade Institutional also announced it will integrate Laser App Anywhere with electronic signature capabilities from DocuSign, giving independent advisers one of the first officially-supported straight-through-processing solutions for account-related forms.] TD Ameritrade Institutional Announces Integration of Laser App® Anywhere: a New Cloud-Based Tool to Help Advisors Complete Forms Faster and on Mobile Devices

LPL Financial Unveils Enhancements to Technology Platform at Annual Financial Advisor Conference from MarketWatch.com

[Now Laser App wasn’t the only company holding a conference in San Diego last week. LPL Financial hosted the LPL Financial Focus Conference and announced a number of technology initiatives and updates for its representatives. LPL is the largest independent broker-dealer in the country in terms of both total representatives and assets, so whatever they do, expect the industry to follow suit.

Notable announcements include a new Enhanced Trading and Rebalancing platform being rolled out to representatives over the next 12 months. LPL is offering the rebalancing platform for free through June of 2014, then for $150/month thereafter. Couple that with TD Ameritrade Institutional’s announcement earlier this year that iRebal will be offered for free through the Veo platform, and you can bet this will put considerable pricing pressure on third-party rebalancing software providers.

LPL also released the LPL Financial Mobile app for iOS and Android, giving advisers the ability to monitor client portfolios and send secure messages to clients, all from inside the app.

And finally, LPL continues to expand its support of electronic signatures with none other than DocuSign, as over 80% of LPL’s documents and forms are eligible for electronic signature processing.] LPL Financial LLC, the nation’s largest independent broker-dealer, a leading RIA custodian and a wholly owned subsidiary of LPL Financial Holdings Inc., today announced a set of enhanced technology offerings and new mobile capabilities for financial advisors and their clients, designed to simplify account management; improve practice efficiency and scalability; and enhance the client experience.

Envestnet Completes Integration Of HiddenLevers Application Into Envestnet’s Next Generation Platform from PRNewswire.com

[In other integration news, Envestnet, the unified wealth management technology provider, announced that it completed the integration of Hidden Levers into its platform. The integration was originally announced back in May at the company’s Advisor Summit and was anticipated to be in production by June. Despite the delay, this is another big win for Hidden Levers, the New York-based startup that continues to attract significant attention with its scenario-based portfolio stress testing capabilities.] Envestnet, a leading provider of unified wealth management technology and services to investment advisors, announced today the integration of the HiddenLevers application into its unified wealth management platform.

Quickview: Strikingly Simple Advisor Websites from Morningstar.com

[And finally, if you’re looking for new ways to stand out among a crowded field of financial advisors, consider how your website might be able to differentiate your business from all the rest. Tons of advisor websites use similar templates with navigation menus, photos, and a few columns of text. But a trend in website design gaining momentum is the sinle-page layout.

In my Morningstar Advisor Quickview update this month, I wrote about one service called Strikingly that you can use to quickly set up your own single page website and use it to differentiate yourself from everyone else.] A single-page website might just set your business apart in a sea of advisor website monotony.

The adviser’s answer to Mint.com, Personal Capital, LearnVest, and other PFM apps

Mint.com is part of the explosion of personal financial management applications, or PFM, that are so popular among consumers. What is the financial adviser's answer to PFM apps?

Mint.com is part of the explosion of personal financial management applications, or PFM, that are so popular among consumers. What is the financial adviser’s answer to PFM apps?

Consumers are connected to their finances in ways never before possible.

New and innovative apps like Mint.com, Personal Capital, LearnVest and others can loosely be organized into a group of personal finance management, or PFM, tools.

Why Consumers Love PFM Apps

Mint.com alone has over 10 million registered users of its online and mobile app tools. Users can easily aggregate their checking, savings, credit, and loan accounts from a variety of providers and financial institutions, generating one dashboard to consolidate money management.

So when a user of these PFM apps decides it may be time to seek out services from a professional financial adviser, how will the adviser’s technology stack up to the expectations established by the PFM tools?

The Adviser’s Answer to PFM Apps

Fortunately, financial advisers do have tools at their disposal to give clients the convenience of consolidated account reporting. Clients can use them to view their account details at any time and on any device, be it a desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

Advisers use the same tools to capture information on all of their clients’ holdings, and can then use the data to drive up-to-date financial plans, net worth statements, cash flow illustrations, and much more.

I covered one solution in this month’s column for Morningstar Advisor.

Read The Advisor’s Answer to Popular Personal Finance Management Tools at Morningstar.com to find out more information.

Live chat for advisers: chat your way to business growth

Financial advisers can use live chat tools provided they first address compliance and productivity issues

Financial advisers can use live chat tools provided they first address compliance and productivity issues

Financial adviser websites can offer live chat tools for client and prospect communication.

As you visit more business websites online, you’ve likely noticed those pop-up windows in the bottom corner inviting you to a live chat. You can use live chat features for all sorts of things, including asking questions about a product, getting help from customer service, or simply submitting general feedback about a recent service experience.

Financial advisers can also leverage this trend in live chat communication with website visitors of all kinds, including clients and prospects.

This month’s column at Morningstar Advisor covers this trend that few advisers are taking advantage of today, but has the potential to be used by a much larger audience in the near future.

Read Live Chat for New Clients now to learn about out the compliance concerns of live chat as well as the issues of maintaining personal productivity in the face of potential distractions.

Simulated phishing attacks can protect your business before a real phishing attack strikes

Simulated Phishing

Phishing attacks are more sophisticated than ever. Don’t fall for them by simulating your own attacks to increase awareness of the latest phishing techniques.

Financial advisers underestimate today’s sophisticated phishing attacks, but simulating attacks helps avoid becoming the next victim.

Phishing attacks used to be very simple to identify: random email messages appeared in your inbox, littered with poor grammar and spelling, and urged you to click a link that was obviously fake.

But today, hackers and attackers are using much more sophisticated techniques to get you to lower your guard and volunteer your personal information online, including account logins and passwords.

So how do you reduce the odds of falling victim to these sophisticated attacks?

Simulate your own sophisticated phishing attack.

In a classic example of Benjamin Franklin’s “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” idiom, you can deploy your own phishing attack across your business to determine what might happen should a real attack be encountered.

And in the spirit of operational efficiency, avoid spending your time creating your own simulated phishing campaign.

Outsource your simulated phishing attacks to one of the several providers that will test how well your business evades such schemes.

Learn more about who simulates phishing attacks and how much these services cost, covered in this month’s Morningstar Advisor column.

Read Protect Against Phishing Attacks at Morningstar Advisor.

While the services mentioned may seem expensive at first, consider how expensive correcting a real attack might be.

Not only can you potentially lose tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, but you can also significantly tarnish the trust clients have in your organization.

How to secure mobile devices against “WiFi honeypots”

WiFi "honeypots" impersonate trusted WiFi networks remembered by your mobile devices

“WiFi honeypots” impersonate WiFi networks remembered and trusted by your mobile devices

Financial advisers should use a VPN to protect mobile devices from “WiFi honeypots.”

WiFi is almost everywhere today. But when you connect to WiFi in your local coffeeshop or hotel for the evening, do you really know who is managing the connection?

Eavesdropping on Public WiFi

You place a lot of trust in unknown providers when you connect your mobile devices to public WiFi.

Most of the time, you’re likely not at risk of having data you send over WiFi intercepted by someone else. But a number of software programs and hardware devices for sale on the Internet allow users to do just that; sit on public WiFi and eavesdrop on unencrypted data being passed back and forth.

WiFi Honeypot

According to one hardware manufacturer, launching man-in-the-middle attacks is "as simple as setting up your typical home wireless router."

According to one hardware manufacturer, launching man-in-the-middle attacks is “as simple as setting up your typical home wireless router.”

Other devices are even more nefarious. Did you know that most of your mobile devices passively seek trusted WiFi networks to which they have connected in the past?

Your mobile devices remember trusted WiFi networks so you don’t have to repeatedly enter your password and/or approve the connection over and over again. Convenient, right?

Well, these nefarious devices called “honeypots” are built to respond to your mobile devices’ inquiry for a trusted WiFi network.

For example, when your phone broadcasts “is the ‘ApexWealthSecureWiFi’ SSID available?” the WiFi honeypot responds, “Yes, I’m the ApexWealthSecureWiFi access point, you can connect with me!”

And that connection now exposes your phone, tablet, or laptop to a potential man-in-the-middle attack (MitM).

Elude WiFi Honeypots

How do you protect yourself against WiFi honeypots?

First, ensure that you use https:// and SSL connections online as much as possible. Download and install browser plugins like HTTPS Anywhere for Firefox and Chrome (sorry Internet Explorer users, consider this one more reason to stop using that browser).

Implement VPN

Second, set up your own VPN, or virtual private network, connection that provides a secure, encrypted “tunnel” through which your Internet traffic is routed.

If you don’t have your own VPN connection available from your IT department, you can subscribe to one of several private VPN services, most of which cost roughly $50 per year.

For a more detailed review of VPN, read my latest column for Morningstar Advisor titled Secure Your Mobile Connections and increase your safety and security when using WiFi away from your authentic networks.

Avoid WiFi Altogether

When in doubt, avoid using WiFi altogether when you’re away from your trusted networks.

Instead, use your mobile device’s cellular connection (3G or 4G LTE), and if your device doesn’t have its own cellular modem, buy a mobile 4G LTE hotspot for $100 and use that (may I recommend an Overdrive Pro 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot from Virgin Mobile?)

Remember that there are people out there who will exploit vulnerabilities for a variety of reasons. Follow the recommendations above to reduce your odds of becoming a victim of a man-in-the-middle attack when using WiFi networks.

Build your own email notifier using RSS feeds of financial services updates

Financial advisers need alternate ways to consume information via RSS feedsSeveral weeks ago, Google announced it will no longer support its Reader application after July 1 of this year.

Google Reader is a very popular way to read updates from websites scattered across the Internet in one convenient page. All updates are powered by RSS feeds (Rich Site Summary, or commonly referred to as Really Simple Syndication). So for any website you read on a regular basis, you can subscribe to receive updates inside Google Reader by adding the RSS feed URL.

The few die-hard financial advisers that continue to use Google Reader to consume information are now faced with dilemma of what to use going forward.

In this month’s Quickview update for Morningstar Advisor, I highlight one service to consider as a replacement to Reader, and also one way to build your own custom email news feed to deliver updates right to your inbox.

Use the following link to read Quickview: Feed Your Appetite for News.

Are you a road warrior adviser? Here are five tech tips to ease your journey


Road warrior advisers can use these tech tips to ease the frustrations of frequent travel

If you’re like me, you spend a good portion of your time on the road attending conferences, visiting clients in other states, and taking a few vacations for rest and relaxation.

But life on the road is riddled with hangups, from small hassles like not being able to find a taxi, to big disruptions of a cancelled flight with no affordable overnight hotel options.

Thankfully, technology is becoming a road warrior adviser’s best friend, drastically reducing the inconvenience of changes to your travel itinerary.

In this month’s Morningstar Advisor column, go check out five tech tips to reduce the stress in your next journey.

Go read Tech for the Road Warrior Advisor at MorningstarAdvisor.com.

Infographics for financial advisers: communicate statistics and boost visibility in one picture

infographicFinancial advisers can use infographics to effectively communicate statistics as well as boost their visibility on the web.

Do you want your message to stand out from all the other financial advisers who are marketing on the Internet? Try branching out with some graphics.

Instead of typing or dictating your next blog post or copy for your marketing brochure, think about how you can illustrate the point you’re trying to make with images.

One of the fastest growing online social services is Pinterest (see: Smarsh president Stephen Marsh addresses Pinterest and compliance), in particular because it is easy to share images and pictures of things that are interesting. Pinterest walls can be made of anything, from pictures of wedding favors, photos of shoes, and yes, even images communicating financial planning recommendations.

So if you want to frame your financial planning message in a new and interesting way, consider making your own infographic.

An infographic (the words “info” and “graphic” smashed together) is a visual image that presents data and information in a compelling medium.

To learn about several online tools you can use to make your own infographics, go read this month’s Morningstar Advisor Quickview update, Create Your Own Infographics