With many financial advisors often having to leave the office to provide their services, the more they need to rely on their smartphones, tablets and other devices to stay on top of business.
“As the city becomes more challenging to people getting around, it’s harder to get them in,” said Jonathan Sceeles, a financial advisor at Edward Jones. “So all of these additional technologies really help you keep in touch and deal with people more effectively.”
But with such a vast array of them available, how to know which apps are worth downloading to make the job most efficient? Here are six that advisors themselves say make the grade.
This free app permits users to move files around by simply dragging them from one place to another, dispensing with clumsy external drives or having to mail yourself documents. Originally invented by two MIT students in 2007, it functions with both PCs and Macs.
“We find Dropbox an excellent tool for clients to securely transfer large documents to us and vice versa, such as wills, investment statements, insurance policies and tax returns,” said Tom McCullough, CEO of Northwood Family Office in Toronto and author of the upcoming book Wealth of Wisdom: The Top 50 Questions Wealthy Families Ask.
Applications for mobile scanning when out and about can really boost productivity.
Susan Bell, executive vice-president of the investment consulting firm Bell Kearns & Associates Ltd., uses TurboScan when she meets with clients at their home or in a restaurant, to scan documents, IDs and receipts. The images are sharper than those taken by her smartphone’s camera, she said, and create a PDF file that she can easily download back at the office.
What’s more, scanning is fast and easy, with the app automatically detecting the edges of a document and cropping. Users can adjust contrast as well, making the copied text or images lighter or darker.
This app allows users to quickly take and save notes, photos, voice memos and checklists to Google Drive, and access them later on any Web-connected device. That makes it ideal for note-taking on the go.
“I use this app to keep track of to-dos and people I need to reach out to,” said Brian McKenzie, a partner at investment management company Chronicle Wealth, “like prospects, partners, and so on. I like Google Keep because it syncs between my phone and my computer, so when I get back to my desk, I can load it up on my computer.”
Google Keep also supports Google Apps accounts, so it can be used with either a personal domain or a business account. Multiple pages can be added on the go, and documents are saved in groups, which is convenient for forwarding.
These apps let advisors access either a home or office computer from another location, and many firms are installing the software that allows employees to do that.
Mr. Sceeles said his company’s proprietary Remote Access app is the only one he uses on a regular basis. “It allows me secure access to my branch systems and client accounts from a remote location on any mobile device. This means I can work from anywhere there is a WiFi connection with most of the same functionality I would have in the office. It also means I can visit clients in their homes and pull up their accounts while I’m there.”
Because Edward Jones has always been a strong proponent of regular, face-to-face interviews to keep abreast of what is going with clients, he added, “it’s a great way to manage your time as well. It saves me travel time and it saves clients travel time.”
Another scanning app, this one from Evernote, “belongs on every productivity enthusiast’s list of best iPhone apps,” according to PCMag.
“I find this to be the best app for scanning documents through a phone,” Mr. McKenzie said. “There is still a fair amount of paperwork in our industry, and I often receive documents at events that I don’t want to carry around with me, so if I can scan it using my phone and then e-mail it to myself, that’s helpful.”
Scannable sends images quickly to either the user’s Evernote account or anywhere else they wish. It can also share files intelligently, so if you are in a meeting, it will automatically ask whether you want to share the images with other attendees as long as their names are on the meeting invite and you have given Scannable access to your calendar.
A chat app for business, Slack combines group messaging, file uploads and notifications into a single collaborative tool that syncs across all Web platforms. Teams can create an account, then talk with each other on Internet Relay Chat-style channels, send messages, or set up private groups.
For Rona Birenbaum, founder and president of the financial planning firms Caring for Clients and Viviplan, “it helps with e-mail overwhelm. One of the problems of this era is that our e-mail inboxes fill up like crazy, and there are a lot of important e-mails – as well as a lot of non-actionable communication.”
Indeed, when first introduced by Canadian tech entrepreneur Stewart Butterfield in 2009, Fast Company magazine dubbed it “an e-mail killer.”
“Slack allows us to have an ongoing dialogue without it going into an e-mail inbox,” Ms. Birenbaum said. “Then you also have a continuing record of your conversations about a particular topic or with a particular group. If I read an article and want my entire team to get it, rather than send them an e-mail with an attachment, I can just post the link to Slack in a general channel, and they can look at it at their leisure.”
You can also make phone calls though Slack. “It’s great for my remote team, Viviplan, because many of us are located across the country,” she said.