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Meet the bionic adviser

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-04-2017 Sadique Neelgund

With the emergence of robo-advisors, there is a debate in the media and the industry, if investors should choose between a new age robo-advisor or a traditional human advisor. While each will appeal to different category of investors, you should definitely work with a human adviser if you can afford one and are able find a good one. And more so if an adviser is constantly adapting to newer and better technologies.

With technology advances, many financial advisers have adopted tools and technologies to ensure their clients get the best experience and robust advice. In developed countries, such advisers have also got a new name—the Bionic adviser: a human adviser using technology to the fullest.

Here are a few instances how advisers use technology and how it can be beneficial to you. One of the most commonly used technology by evolved advisers is a financial planning software that helps prepare, implement and track a client’s goal-based financial plan. Not only are all life goals like children’s education, retirement, and house purchase, and respective investments to achieve them, captured in one place, but your income, expenditure, assets and liabilities are also captured and monitored to guide you on all possible money related decisions. Advisers do this for just for an individual but the entire family, which can include spouse, parents and children, thus giving the entire snapshot of the family’s finances in one place.

If you are investing in mutual funds and your adviser still asks you to fill forms and cut cheques, she has probably not caught up with technology. Paperless mutual fund investing is now a reality; it has seen huge improvements in the past 1-2 years. Your adviser can now help you buy and sell mutual funds through online mutual fund transaction platforms. This means she can help you invest anytime from anywhere.

Traditionally, advisers are used to sending investment portfolios on a quarterly or a monthly basis. Using some of the latest technologies, your adviser can give you access to real-time portfolio statements and goals progress tracking. This can happen not just through a secure Web login, but even on your mobile through an app. You can view your investment holdings and current market value across all products whenever you want. You don’t really have to call your adviser and wait to get reports.

Have you ever wished that all your financial documents like investment papers, insurance policies, PAN card, income tax returns, Will, Aadhaar card and whatnot were securely stored in one place and indexed properly for anytime access?

Some advisers do help their clients with this, either using secured online vaults or using simple apps like Dropbox or Google Drive. This tech-based service can come handy during emergencies or while applying for something that requires such documents.

One of most useful productivity and collaboration tool out there is G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps). Apps like drive, calendar, sheets and docs are the most popular among advisers. If an adviser fixes a meeting with you, it’s ideal that a Google Calendar invitation is created and sent to enable auto reminders. It will make your life easier, if your money management to-do list is created and shared via a Google Sheet. This can then be accessed and updated by both of you.

Last but not the least is the use of technologies such as Skype for video calling, screen sharing and instant chats. Many tech savvy advisers cater to clients beyond their geographical boundaries. Advisers and even clients now swear by the digital meetings with travelling even within city limits becoming a time consuming affair.

Another advantage of being comfortable with digital meetings is that you can choose to work with the best of advisers anywhere in the country. This is particularly more useful for investors who are living in smaller towns and find it difficult to get a good adviser locally. This also works for non-resident Indians.

Instead of thinking robos versus humans, it is time to think and check if your adviser is a Bionic adviser, i.e., loaded with latest technologies and tools to give you the best possible service.

Sadique Neelgund is director and chief executive officer of Network FP, a platform for financial professionals

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