There are several software offerings in the Financial Services industry ranging in price from free to thousands of pounds per month. These amounts can depend on the number of licences and/or users as well as functionality. But the most important issue is what does it do for your firm?
If you find free or relatively cheap software, you have to question why. Salaries for the creation, support and development of the software still need to be paid. You get what you pay for. The questions to ask are how is the software funded, is it unbiased and is there a development path that will at least match yours going forward. Why would it be offered for free? Who owns the data that you enter into the system and can you ever recover it?
The financial services industry is very small so the number of potential users is infinitesimally small compared to say the Microsoft products. And yet Microsoft products sell in the hundreds and thousands of pounds, hence Financial Services software products ought at least to match, but more likely, exceed Microsoft costs.
Selling and producing software in the Financial Services is not like selling a packet of peas which you have to source and market. Software is high maintenance. There is new technology, new compliance, different people have different demands, new expectations and ideas are constantly developing. The most important thing is that once data is entered electronically, it should not need to be rekeyed, it should be able to be used and reused, found easily and passed to different systems. The frustrating thing is after you have spent many hours entering data into a system to find its limitations. The cost of a proper comprehensive data transfer is not cheap – to do it properly you need to do lots of manual and visual matching, no matter how clever the data transfer software is.
They say that 2% of a programmer’s time is spent on getting the functionality right, the rest, 98% of the time, is spent on ensuring that the software code integrates properly into the rest of the software and does what users expect it to do. In particular, screens, reports and the integration of items all need to be checked when new features are added.
So what about client management software? Is it worth investing time and a bit of money into a relatively cheap product that does little more than reproduce the filing cabinet? The question is why are you using software in the first place? On average IFAs spend two thirds of their time on admin tasks. Would you like to spend more time in front of your clients? The cost of the better software goes from around £100 per month – less than 2 fill ups of petrol.
What is in it for you?
The value of software is in the value that you get from it. If you can see the less paper office and carry on a full working day from any location - that is priceless for some. It can be the difference in lifestyle, taking holidays, partnerships with other IFAs and/or mortgage brokers, admin staff etc. Disaster Recovery, Financial Modelling, managing diaries and workflow, Correspondence, the less paper office, electronic pensions and investment details, electronic commissions statements with automatic reconciliation and much more can provide you with the relevant reason(s) to consider a truly integrated software solution today but you also need to grow with software so it is important to understand if the attitude of the provider of the software to growth, support and development match your business plans and you will not be stifled by your software.
And then you can be sure that it is worth paying for what you get.