When it comes to day-to-day work, efficiency is key, and this could not be more apparent in the financial services industry!

The need to save time when servicing clients is imperative in all roles within Financial Planning and therefore, the more streamlined a process can be the better. We are continuously seeing technology providers come to market offering tools with functionality that simplify and streamline most day-to-day processes. But with so many specialist tools available, is integration between them essential?

Two tools that are trying to capture this need for efficiency are Intelligent Office (iO), a practice management system for financial advisers, and Financial Express (FE) Analytics, an investment research and analysis tool whose services promote themselves as time saving, which in turn allows advisers to spend more time focusing on their clients. Although these tools are in their own right very good at what they do I believe that it is important for us to look at how well they integrate with each other and whether it is possible to streamline certain tasks even further.

Integration is defined as “the action or process of combining two or more things in an effective way”. So how do these two differing software providers combine in an effective way?

As a client management system, iO has many capabilities both from a financial adviser and client perspective. Advisers can construct workflows, produce fact finds, configure their own compliance tool and produce real-time valuations. It also has the capability, through its online client portal, for advisers to interact with their clients in a secure and remote way. Conversely, we have FE Analytics, who describe themselves as a one-stop shop for investment research and analysis, portfolio construction, due diligence and ongoing monitoring.

I believe that a fantastic addition to both these comprehensive tools is their ability to interact with one another, allowing consumers to save time on day-to-day activities. For those that subscribe to both services, there is the ability to run real-time valuations for clients on iO and with the click of a button open up their portfolio directly in FE so that further research and analysis can be performed quickly and efficiently. Gone are the days of having to call providers, spending countless hours on hold, gathering up-to-date valuations and fund information only to have to spend more time uploading this information onto a secondary tool to perform research and analysis.

Personally, I feel that where iO and FE integrate well is during the preparation process for an annual review meeting. FE Analytics offers adviser firms the ability to send Attitude to Risk Questionnaires (ATRQs) directly, via email, to their clients who in turn can complete these online through a client specific link. For an administrator this saves a huge amount of time during client onboarding as it removes the need to send hard copies of the risk questionnaire in the post, wait for these to be completed and subsequently returned by the client. Once the client has completed the questionnaire, the administrator is notified immediately and is able to download a copy of the report (which is stored on FE), save a copy on the clients file and subsequently share it with the paraplanner and adviser for further analysis to be performed. Therefore, prior to any client annual review meeting, advisers are able to see changes in their client’s attitude to risk and with the integration between iO and FE, see how their current portfolio matches this risk profile. I believe this highlights a perfect scenario of where the two tools are blending seamlessly. This integration allows advisers to see whether a client’s investment portfolio needs rebalancing, whether additional purchases or disinvestments are required and to perform any additional investment research and analysis to process these recommendations.

With an ever growing need for efficiency, where saving time and money is so key, it is so important for software providers to continue to integrate with one another so that consumers are able to work as effectively as possible.