As advisers search for quicker, simpler and more efficient ways of giving advice through online platforms, they generally have one of two options - to create a custom platform with a potentially hefty price tag, or to choose a fully designed platform that may not suit their work process, their needs or their business.
According to software company OMNIMax, building an adviser platform can often be like the process of building a home - you either begin from scratch, or you can choose a ‘standard plan’ or a template that you can then adjust to suit your needs.
OMNIMax specialises in platforms dedicated to investment and KiwiSaver advice, areas where product specialist Ewen Cameron says it is most vital for advisers to have a quick, easy and repeatable process. He says the ‘boxed’ solution that OMNIMax provides is as adaptable as advisers need it to be, but it also offers a process that gathers the right information, and takes care of administration and compliance all in one place.
“What we’ve built is a platform that could be used for any advisory practice, but our main focus is currently on investments and KiwiSaver,” Cameron told NZ Adviser.
“If you want to build a house, you can walk into a company and have a big conversation as to what you want it to look like. That conversation could last days or weeks, and eventually they’ll come back with something that may be what you’re asking for - and then they put a price tag on it.”
“But the other thing they can do is show you some ‘standard plans’, and that avoids all the planning and discussion and becomes a very easy part of the process,” he explained.
“An adviser could come to us and get a totally bespoke, custom solution that is unique to them - but we’ve found that most advisers don’t want to spend heaps of money on that. They want something they can add their name and logo to, adapt to their colours and use with confidence.”
OMNIMax’s KiwiSaver and investment software takes the adviser through the full process of information gathering, assessment, and generating advice. The platform allows the client to provide key personal information about their income, assets and goals, and it also assesses tolerance for risk, and preferences around things like ethical investing.
The adviser can then review the information, and begin to put together their recommendations.
“The KiwiSaver product is very simple, and it allows the adviser to find out about the basics around the customer’s KiwiSaver and make a recommendation as to where they think they should be,” Cameron explained.
“The investment product also involves a fact-find to determine the client’s financial situation, and what they’re trying to achieve. It looks at where money is coming from and where it’s going, how much has been accumulated and what the client wants to do with it. Then the adviser can come up with an investment solution.”
“What we’ve got is a framework and a series of templates, and we’ve designed a workflow based around what the client can do,” he continued. “The other workflow is around what the adviser needs to do, and that eventually leads to a document that pulls through the information you’ve gathered into one place.
“It’s a completely repeatable process, and so from a compliance perspective, all the advisers need to do is follow it step by step, and so the advice process will be as per company policy every time.”
Cameron noted that much of the process can be delegated to an administrative assistant, or someone who doesn’t need to be a qualified adviser. The adviser can then come in at the ‘recommendation’ stage of the process, review the information, and generate their statement of advice.
“One you have that all set up, you can spend 10 minutes coming in, reviewing the information, making your recommendation and hitting go,” Cameron explained.
“KiwiSaver isn’t a big money-earner for many advisers, so it’s quite important to have a process that’s fast, efficient and repeatable.”
Cameron says the key assumption behind the technology is that the adviser has been in contact with the client, and has had a direct conversation about their objectives and goals. However, he says that for some clients who want a more limited scope of advice, the platform alone may be enough - particularly for those who only want a recommendation on their KiwiSaver.
OMNIMax also offers tools to help clients project their retirement situation, and to check whether they are on track to reach their goals - something which can then be used to inform a more comprehensive advice process later down the line.
“We also have some tools that are designed to be used in discussion with the client,” Cameron explained.
“We ask about age, salary and current KiwiSaver balance, as well as goals and desired retirement income. You can then look at whether the client is on track to achieve the retirement that they want, and you can build a model as to what their finances are going to look like given their current settings.”
“What we have here is a starting point, and we’ve had advisers who have loved the workflow and the step-by-step process, but wanted to change something in the output,” Cameron concluded.
“And they can absolutely do that - though that’s stepping away from our ‘boxed’ solution into something more bespoke. We can then have a discussion about how customised they’d like it to be, and there’s no limitation - just the budget and time.
“It’s a way for advisers to get set up, get going and run their brokerage with minimum hassle.”