FPA head of policy and standards Ben Marshan

Technology is wonderful, but figuring out what we need and what works best is not as easy as it looks – that’s the theme Ben Marshan, the FPA’s head of policy and standards, says emerged from the feedback from the technology-focused sessions at last year’s FPA Professionals Congress in Hobart.

“They told us they wanted to embrace technology but [they said] we should be helping financial planners understand where it all fits in their business,” Marshan says. “Practices were being attracted to shiny new technology but when they tried to implement it, they found that it wasn’t working out the way that they had hoped.”

Marshan has added a technology guide to this year’s congress, based on the feedback from last year. It gives advisers a practical and easy-to-use blueprint for decoding the maze of offerings on the market.

The “FPA’s fintech buyers guide and checklist” takes practice owners through the process of assessing what technology product type their business requires. It uses customer relationship manager (CRM) tools as the subject, and guides advisers through asking what problem they are trying to solve, determining the best solutions and, ultimately, considerations for making a purchase.

“We used CRMs as a case study, but you could use the same framework for any piece of technology within your business,” Marshan says. “Platforms, advice tools, CRMs, human resources systems, finance systems, you name it.”

The advice industry is becoming increasingly dependent on technology to mitigate the costs of regulatory and compliance standards, yet financial advice firms – and smaller ones, especially – are often ill-equipped to properly marry up their needs with the best available options on the market. Choosing a CRM is tricky, but assessing products such as investment platforms can be equally difficult.

This, Marshan explains, is where a basic guide on how to assess your business needs is required.

“The idea is to use this guide to figure out your processes and procedures,” he says. “Once you’ve figured out what gaps there are, you can go to last year’s fintech report and identify the solutions.”

This year’s whitepaper, which will be released at the congress, is all part of the FPA’s mandate to provide a hub for members’ engagement and growth.

“That’s what we see our role as – a place where our members can come together, have a conversation and support [one another] with thinking and ideas and shared experiences,” Marshan says.

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Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning.