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FAs Name Their Favorites in Technology

December 2, 2014

With dozens of technology vendors all claiming to offer world-class tools, advisors tend to stick with names they trust. That’s why TD Ameritrade retains its crown among custodians as the top tech provider, with Schwab coming in second, according to Financial Planning.

The publication’s annual technology survey polled advisors on their satisfaction with custodians and broker-dealers and the usefulness of their various tool types. Then it ranked brands within each category. The survey includes responses from advisors who specialize in accounting and insurance services as well as financial planners.

Lesser-known custodians like Folio Institutional and Shareholders Service Group ranked above giants like Fidelity and Pershing. Among broker-dealers, advisors were most satisfied with technology from MetLife Securities, followed by Commonwealth Financial. Raymond James ranked third, with Cambridge Investment Research rounding out the four best B-D tech providers.

Regarding types of tools, more advisors said financial-planning software had the biggest impact on their business than anything else — although CRM also proved highly useful. In a somewhat odd grouping of categories, smartphones ranked third and tablets fourth in terms of usefulness to advisors. That might have something to do with better user experience and software design, the survey suggests. Portfolio-management software ranked fifth as a tool, according to the survey.

The top brand in financial-planning software was MoneyGuidePro, with eMoney Advisor a distant second. Moneytree and NaviPro Planning Suite were third and fourth most popular, respectively. The CRM-tool ranking suggests the average planner prefers Microsoft’s Outlook, which isn’t even a true customer-relationship manager. Among actual brands, Redtail and Salesforce were tied for second place, with Act! and Junxure following at a distance.

Tech trends indicate most advisors now use both smartphones and tablets for work. No surprise that the iPhone and iPad are most popular of those tools. And perhaps because more people are using more mobile devices, cloud-based software is becoming commonplace, the survey found. As for social media, the vast majority of advisors are on LinkedIn, but fewer than half are on Facebook and even fewer use Twitter.

By Chris Latham
  • To read the Financial Planning article cited in this story, click here (free registration required).