Choosing the right fintech solution

30 January 2019

Jayson Forrest

Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.

Navigating the myriad of fintech systems in the marketplace need not be onerous, if some basic steps are put in place during the assessment process.

It’s a hard reality that many financial planning practices make the wrong choices when it comes to selecting the right technology for their business, with most companies typically choosing one of two strategies when deciding on which technology solution to use:

1. One software tool that will cover all the business’s technology needs; or

2. A more customised ‘plug and play’ option that can work with different types of technology.

Speaking at the 2018 FPA Professionals Congress, Stewart Bell from Audere Coaching and Consulting said planning businesses were finding it difficult to navigate through the myriad of technology options available to them. He said it was important for these companies to first step back and properly assess technology, before selecting and implementing it.

“There are three important considerations a business needs to make when assessing technology,” Bell said. “Firstly, will this technology improve the way I do things? Secondly, will this technology make it easier for me to do my job? And thirdly, will this technology make it faster for me to do my work? These are the three considerations planners need to make when assessing technology.”

Only after the technology has been properly assessed, should a business consider implementing it. However, before doing so, Bell warned that there were still four important steps a business should undertake before finally deciding on the technology.

1. Develop a clear strategy: Understand what the overarching plan or strategy is for the business and how the technology fits into that strategy.

2. Identify the pain points: What areas of your business can be improved upon? This includes pinpointing issues such as: repetitive tasks; areas that are consuming most of your time doing; what parts of your business or processes keep people waiting; and what keeps causing errors in your business.

3. Buy to budget: Don’t over-engineer your solutions. By doing so, it will considerably add to the costs of the business.

4. Seek expertise: For businesses that decide to develop their own software solution, they need to invest in bringing on   somebody with the necessary expertise to develop, maintain and operate the software.

To assist planners with navigating their way through the wide range of technology options available in the marketplace, the FPA has released the FPA Fintech Buyers Guide and Checklist. The report includes a Technology Assessment Checklist and a guide for assessing the fintech needs of a financial planning practice, as well as tips for selecting the right technology partner to help improve financial advice delivery.

According to FPA Head of Policy and Standards, Ben Marshan CFP®, the Fintech Buyers Guide and Checklist is the result of “countless conversations with FPA members, consultants and fintech solution providers over the last 12 months”.

“We know business models from the past are not working efficiently in an environment of increasing costs, rising consumer expectations and regulatory obligations,” Marshan said. “It is clear that if technology investment doesn’t align with the financial planning process and business outcomes, it leads to inefficiency, duplication and additional cost.”

The Fintech Buyers Guide and Checklist includes a case study focusing on the issues to consider when selecting a customer relationship management system. The step-by-step process can be replicated when introducing any new software to a business or advice process.

The guide includes important questions to ask software providers, and a Technology Assessment Checklist for easy vendor comparisons to help increase the likelihood of selecting the right fintech partner or system for a financial planning practice.