Five steps to creating solutions for your financial practice
The Financial Services industry is entering a more stable phase - both the Election and Royal Commission hypes are over. There are however significant changes required for Financial Planners that many are still coming to terms with. Even with a clearer picture of what those changes are, the main issue facing many is how to run an advice business profitably while navigating these additional compliance requirements.
Technology is key, but the more popular software is notoriously costly to configure for efficiency.
An increasing number of Planners are therefore now turning to alternative options, most notably, the idea to build their own solutions.
Take a look below at some success stories and examples of how we have assisted these businesses to do this:
- A financial projection tool to be used by prospective and current clients to develop a custom financial plan (Sovereignity by Sovereign Wealth)
- A payment quoting tool that generates new customer leads through a Financial Planner's website (Bidfin)
- A risk quoting tool that provides simple online quotes for TPD and Life insurance products (Omnium)
- A suite of client engagement tools including information gathering, visualisation, and modelling calculators (Astute Wheel).
So, can anyone build their own Financial planning and compliance tools?
Here are our five steps to designing, building, launching, and supporting a successful solution:
- Create your idea - You probably already have an idea in mind if you've read this far - if not, a good place to start is talking with your customers to discover more depth on what they do, how they do it, and what pain points they have. If you are still stuck on what problem you'd like to solve, use some brainstorming and mind mapping with a business partner or trusted professional.
Helpful tool: Tony Buzan's famous mindmapping technique
- Clarify your solution - Once you know more about the problem you want to solve, now is the time to clarify how you intend to uniquely solve it. It can be helpful to look at how competitors solve such problems and look for weaknesses or oversights. You can also talk with suppliers or anyone else with experience helping customers with these problems in different ways. Writing down your solution in the format of a lean canvas can be a great way to clarify what you're working on, and will help others understand what you're trying to build.
Helpful tool: Lean Canvas
- Test your idea - Once you have a solution to a problem in mind, and before you start investing too much more time and money, it's important to validate what potential customers think of your solution. You may want to build something in MS Excel for example, or if you already have got to this point, then you could convert that MS Excel workbook to an online app using a tool like Highlighter by YTML. Be open-minded to feedback from your customers - don't just listen to what they say, try to understand why they say it!
Helpful tool: MS Excel, Highlighter
- Build your product! - Assuming you've got this far, that means your customers are seeing great value from your product! You should also have a clear idea on the business case for developing the tool - does it save you time, improve customer service, or is it a product that generates leads or that you can even charge for? Software development is traditionally very expensive and quite high risk. However, innovative technology such as Highlighter can turn your MS Excel tools directly into web applications with minimal effort, and include a bunch of other benefits along the way too.
Helpful tool: Learn more about Highlighter here
- Launch and continual development - Once you've built your tool, you will want to incorporate it into your process and make a song and dance about it - set up a new page on your website, send out an email to your customer base, share on social media, or find distribution platforms where there are lots of your target customer hanging out. You will no doubt have some feedback, find bugs, or uncover new opportunities to tweak your tool. Respond to this feedback quickly, and use it to plan future changes to your brand new tool. If you're using a platform like Highlighter you can avoid lengthy and costly development processes - changes can be made quickly and directly.
Helpful tool: Canvas, Seido, Highlighter
What to watch out for: We have come across many Planners who have built their own tool and want to take it a step further and commercialise it. The most common issues are:
- Having to rebuild the tool due to lack of understanding of technology (importance of having a technology partner).
- There are already better tools out there (importance of market research, competitor analysis and product market fit).
- Cost/effort to maintain/support tool when commercialised (lack of understanding of software business).
Right, there is obviously a lot more to being successful at developing new tools. But we wish you luck, and of course if you'd like more info or to discuss your product don't hesitate to reach out to us!