As more and more people are turning to Investment Advisors and Financial Planners for help managing their money, advisors and planners are looking for ways to better serve their new and existing clients and continue to grow their business. Oyster Director Bill Davis explains how Oyster’s new Advisory Planning Services help Advisors and Financial Planners improve their efficiency, assess, select and implement software, and better understand their clients’ wants and needs.
*Oyster Consulting does not act as an Investment Advisor, Broker-Dealer or Financial Planner. These services are for financial institutions and Advisors.
Transcript provided by Temi transcription service
Oyster: Welcome to this week’s serving of Oyster Stew, a mix of financial services, commentary, and insights. Each week we’ll discuss what is happening in the industry based on what we see as we work with regulators and clients. We hope you come away with the knowledge and tools to help you make the best decisions for your firm’s future.
Elizabeth Gatlin: I’m Elizabeth Gatlin, your host for today’s podcast about one of Oyster’s newest areas, Advisory Planning Services. As people try to make sense of what is happening in the financial markets and are increasingly seeking advice from financial planners, those planners may be trying to find ways to work more efficiently and determine what software will make the most sense for them going forward. Today I have Bill Davis here to talk about that and things that advisors should be thinking about. Prior to joining Oyster, Bill served as Vice President at Folio Investing, leading the brokerage operations, relationship management, and customer service divisions for both retail and institutional clients. Bill also served as Managing Director of Operations of First Clearing. Since joining Oyster, Bill has been a key leader in creating Advisory Planning Services. So Bill, let’s get started. What is Advisory Planning Services and why did Oyster decide it was a service we wanted to provide to our clients?
Bill Davis: Thanks Elizabeth. First I want to say how happy I am to be at Oyster and to be part of what I think is just a fabulous team. APS is Advisory Planning Services, which is a new team within Oyster that helps our clients to more effectively use their financial planning tools. Oyster historically has had practices around things like Risk and Compliance, Trading and Markets, and other things like Finance and Accounting, Expert Witness and Litigation Support and Strategic Planning and Execution. We did quite a bit of research and talked to others around the industry, and it was clear that support around planning software is something that’s needed. Many firms and financial advisors point out the need for help because they want to make sure that the software application they use can be used more efficiently and effectively. I’ve got a couple of examples from recent articles that have pointed out this need.
The headline of an article from Investment News stated that client anxiety about retirement planning has escalated. They report that 93% of advisors say that clients have contacted them about their retirement plans. Another article just published recently stated that planners are seeing a big increase in calls from many new investors who have lost money during the pandemic and are very, very concerned. They’re getting calls from new clients who’ve been doing their own investing, and they’re in a panic because of the market drop. So advisors, they’re going to want to do a financial plan for those clients. And if they get hit with a lot of them, they’re going to need help there. Our goal as a firm is to help the FAs with the software so they can spend more time growing their business.
Elizabeth Gatlin: So what are some of the problems financial advisors are facing and what benefits does APS bring to the table?
Bill Davis: Advisory firms offering financial planning software – it’s very important for client satisfaction and retention. And through our services, we can help firms save time and focus more energy on growing their business. In many cases, we’ve heard that planners need help putting together plans. Especially as we move forward during this time of uncertainty, new clients are approaching financial advisors for help. We believe firms need a solution to outsource retirement planning. And by offering different types of services, we are well positioned to help. We can help with this by providing industry expertise, including compliance oversight, to help with all of the firm’s needs.
Elizabeth Gatlin: So what types of services does Oyster offer for APS?
Bill Davis: Well, Elizabeth, Oyster can help in four different ways. First, Plan Building will help advisors build plans. There are many complexities. They’re building plans that are very time consuming. We can help FAs produce plans more quickly and efficiently, freeing up an FA’s time to build their business. Second is something we call Advisor Mentoring. This is where we can help advisors better understand the complexities of the tool. We have professionals who have extensive expertise, who can help FAs navigate the software to complete their plans for their client’s future. Third: Planning Software Selection. Oyster can do a complete analysis of the options available and can help a firm choose the right planning software solution for their needs. Fourth and last, is Plan Transition Support. Once a firm has made a decision to move from one firm to another, we can help manage the process to move from that software solution they’re currently on today to the new one.
Elizabeth Gatlin: So let’s talk about the services and a little more depth. Can you tell me more about plan building?
Bill Davis: Yes. With Plan Builder, we help the FA go through the steps of building a plan. We help gather, review and organize the data. We review assumptions and input the data into the software tool. From there we develop and review the target plan. We create reports, we QC those reports and then we do a final review with the financial advisor to ensure are ready to discuss the plan with the client. We want to keep the financial advisor updated all along the way to ensure that they understand the client’s needs and that they are good with discussing the plan with the client in its final state.
Elizabeth Gatlin: The next step, we have Advisor Mentoring. What can you tell us about that service?
Bill Davis: Our goal with this service is to work closely with the advisor so they can learn the nuances of the software and produce plans for clients more quickly and efficiently. For example, we can guide our clients through all necessary steps to create a plan and provide more detail around things like data gathering, goal setting, social security, and investment data entry, defining goals as well as risk identification concerning things like life insurance, disability, estate planning, and many other key tools within the software.
Elizabeth Gatlin: And how about Planning Software Selection?
Bill Davis: What we see is that as financial plans are updated over time, most advisory firms accumulate a huge amount of client history in the planning software. That said, the focus and philosophy of an advisory firm can change over time, requiring the need for different tools. Our professionals can help analyze the different options and cost of retirement plan applications and provide the information necessary so that a firm feels comfortable they’re making the correct software selection for their future.
Elizabeth Gatlin: And finally we have Plan Transition Support. Can you walk us through the details of the service?
Bill Davis: Oyster can help firms manage their move to a new software application. Some firms will look at the software they have in place today and they want to save money. So they may try to renegotiate a deal or look around to see what prices they can get from competitors, and then if they do change, and it’s been a huge problem for firms when they transition from one software to another. It’s two-fold. One is, it’s complicated because there is no straight-forward way to do it. Not everything can be imported or export it and then import it into the new software. So you’ve got to have expertise to help you with that, and trying to come up with a plan to gain adoption of the FAs so that they will utilize the new software. Once the firm’s made the difficult decision to move to a new software solution, Oysters experts can help with the transition.
Bill Davis: We can help with that migration, which includes exporting plan information out of the old system and importing it into the new one. As I said before, advisory firms accumulate a huge amount of history where exporting is not possible. We can help advisors load plans and flow into the new system and provide quality checks along the way to ensure accuracy. We can help with ensuring that things like timing, inflation allocation, total returns, and Monte Carlo results are all similar to what was in the previous software and help troubleshoot where there are differences. Once the transition is completed, or even during the transition, we can assist with plan building and FA mentoring as advisors become more familiar with the software.
Elizabeth Gatlin: Thanks Bill. And lastly, what value does Oyster bring?
Bill Davis: Well, Oyster’s background in Compliance and Risk as well as its depth and knowledge can help firms with their retirement planning solutions. Planning is complex and the learning curve is very steep, so having a team that includes experts that have helped advisors put together thousands of plans brings, we believe, tremendous value to our clients. This type of expertise is very difficult to find in the industry. Oyster’s experienced experts can help advisory firms with building plans, managing the transition to new software, software selection and advisor mentoring. This can save advisors valuable time that can be used to stay engaged with potential new clients as well as existing clients so that they can continue to grow their business.
Elizabeth Gatlin: Thanks so much, Bill, for sitting down and talking about this with us.
Bill Davis: Thanks Elizabeth. I really enjoyed it and I want to thank everyone for attending our podcast today. We look forward to doing this again very soon.
Oyster: Thanks again for listening to the Oyster Stew podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe so we can continue to bring you resources to help you make the best decisions for your firm. If you’re struggling with the topic and you’d like us to do a podcast on it, or you’d like a free consultation, feel free to reach out to us at (804) 965-5400, or by visiting our website at oysterllc.com.