Cashflow modelling is an integral part of many financial advisers’ advice processes, with the market volatility of the recent years highlighting the necessity for having robust financial plans in place.
A cashflow plan visually maps out your clients' financial plans, allows you to stress test them against negative scenarios, and help ensure that the client has enough money to support their needs and goals. Moreover, it allows you to ensure the suitability of your recommendations whilst providing clear and easily comprehended reports – helping you to meet the new Consumer Duty regulations.
With so many cashflow planning tools now on the market, it is important to understand what you should be looking for when investing in a new tool to enhance your tech stack, bring efficiencies to your advice process, and help you provide the best outcomes for your clients.
Key things to consider
There are the obvious things to consider when choosing any new software, such as ease of use of the tool and how much it is going to cost – but there are also more specific decisions that you will have to make, such as what tools and features will best serve the needs of your business and your clients. The checklist below outlines the key things that we believe you should consider when choosing a cashflow planning tool. Read on to find out more about each key factor in more detail.
Cashflow planning has become an integral part of many advice firms, so it’s important to have a tool that is not only powerful, but also easy and intuitive to use. After all, what is the point of having hundreds of features if you can’t even use them? Your cashflow modelling tool will also likely be used by many different people within the firm, so it is important that they are all able to make full use of it. We will also mention digital onboarding as an additional feature later – in which clients can effectively onboard themselves. This may well be the first client experience that they have with your firm, so it is important that you choose a tool that they are easily able to use and reflects the clear and straightforward process that you will be offering them as a client.
Of course, cashflow planning tools are powerful pieces of software with many different features and integrations built in, so the user experience can only be simplified to a certain extent – that is where training and support can come in. With any new software it is inevitable that you will have queries, hence it is important to take into account the support that will be available to you in the decision-making process, such as in-depth demos from experts and free trials, so that you can fully test the system before committing financially.
With more and more cashflow planning tools on the market, the costs and charges for each can vary significantly. Whilst the monthly fee is the most obvious, make sure you don’t stop there when researching the costs of a new tool.
Many tools feature ‘hidden’ costs, such as a one-off set up fee, white-labelling charges, training costs and add-on features – meaning that although they may appear cheaper initially, they end up costing just as much (if not more) than those with an all-inclusive monthly fee.
You may also find yourself considering the ‘free’ tools on the market. Whilst a free offering is always tempting, it is important to assess whether it will provide you with the same value that other tools will offer. Often, these ‘free’ tools are bundled into a larger (paid) offering, only integrating with the provider’s other systems: with cashflow planning now such a central part of the process, it may make more sense to invest in a tool that can fully integrate into your existing tech stack, allowing you to improve your efficiency and accuracy.
Integrations are an important factor to consider when choosing any new tool for your business. With so many providers, it is key to ensure that your new cashflow tool will integrate with your current back-office and other software you use to improve efficiency and accuracy.
It is true that having an integration is not ‘essential’ for use – the benefits that integrations provide cannot be understated: improving efficiency by reducing time spent switching between tools, and accuracy by reducing (if not eliminating) the need for re-keying data across systems. In fact, we found that advisers who integrate their back-offices with FE CashCalc have, on average, 32 more clients than those who don’t – demonstrating the significant benefits of integrations.
FE CashCalc is integrated with 15 back-office systems and has an Open API which allows third parties to easier integrate with us. We’re keen to increase the number of two-way integrations we offer as well – find out who we integrate with here.
FE CashCalc also now integrates with our award-winning fund research tool, FE Analytics, meaning that you can access medium scans and factsheets directly within your planning tool, saving you even more time.
One valuable feature of a cashflow modeller is having access to both a net and growth modeller, as well as the ability to change the growth projection in order to provide customised models for your clients.
With FE CashCalc, you can build your own templates based on sectors and asset allocation. Additionally, all FE Investments model portfolios are pre-populated and can be forecast, providing added benefit to those using our managed portfolio service.
Client reporting is an essential part of the advice process so it makes sense to select a tool that will allow you to easily create client-facing reports that support your recommendations. Cashflow reports are especially valuable in helping to provide positive outcomes to your clients, by allowing them to clearly and easily visualise their financial future – ensuring that they understand the value of your advice.
As with everything, it is important that these reports can be customised to your individual clients’ needs. FE CashCalc allows you to output comprehensive reports, enabling you to customise which sections or forecasts are shown, so as to best meet each client’s unique needs, and also conforming to Consumer Duty regulations by clearly evidencing the value and suitability of your advice to both the regulator and the client.
Individual clients will have different cashflow planning needs, so it is important to find a tool that will cater for your unique clients. Calculators are an invaluable tool and to be able to have them all included in your cashflow planning tool is a great benefit.
The number and types of calculators included varies from provider to provider, but FE CashCalc includes over 25: ranging from a pension forecaster, to mortgage and equity release, to school fees calculator. These extra tools can provide invaluable insight and visualisation to your specific clients’ needs.
Gone are the days of manually re-keying pages and pages of a hard-copy paper fact finds – many cashflow planning tools now include a digital onboarding feature, saving you from having to pay for and understand multiple different systems. Digital onboarding is a must for growing advice firms - allowing you to save up to 2 hours per new client and avoid any errors arising from re-keying information between systems.
Whilst digital onboarding supports all four Consumer Duty outcomes, it is particularly beneficial for meeting consumer support requirements. It achieves this by enabling vulnerable clients who require assistance to onboard themselves in the comfort of their homes, while still providing a completely secure and conversational process through features like secure messaging and digital document exchange.
In conclusion, the importance of a powerful cashflow planning tool cannot be overlooked - with recent market volatility and upcoming Consumer Duty regulations making cashflow plans a necessity in the financial planning process.
Here, we have highlighted the key considerations that should be made when considering which of the many available tools to add to your tech stack. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about our solutions for Financial Advisers, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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