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Go-to online resources you need to know about

Useful online tools and websites offer advisors up-to-date information, analysis and insight

By: MARJO JOHNE

Date: November 29, 2016

Helping clients achieve their financial goals is a tremendous responsibility – one that requires a deep reservoir of knowledge and quick access to the right tools. That’s why it’s important for advisors to know where to turn to when they need accurate, up-to-date information as well as resources that make it easier to deliver the best results for clients.

“There are a lot of resources out there that can help financial advisors improve their practice,” says Kirk McMillan, regional vice-president, Ontario east wealth sales at Sun Life Financial. “The trick is knowing which resources to trust and which to ignore.”

Limor Markman, principal of Toronto-based Limor Markman Consulting Inc., which focuses on providing financial knowledge for younger women, says it’s also a good idea for advisors to arm themselves with technology that can help streamline some of the tasks they typically undertake when working with clients.

“The right tools can really help them support their clients without the advisor having to make long lists or do so much heavy lifting,” says Ms. Markman.

So what resources and tech tools should advisors put on their go-to list? Mr. McMillan and Ms. Markman share their favourites:

For market news and insights

Mr. McMillan likes to start his day with Morningstar and Globe Advisor. From analyses on mutual funds, low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to growth trends in today’s investing environment, these online sites provide both a broad view and deep insight into the issues that affect advisors and their clients. Free viewing is available on these sites, with an option to subscribe for access to resources such as analyst reports and advanced screeners to find top performing stocks, funds and ETFs.

For practice management

Many of today’s thought leaders like to share their best ideas on social media. Mr. McMillan is a LinkedIn follower of Duncan MacPherson, the Kelowna, B.C.-based CEO of Pareto Systems, a business development consulting firm that coaches financial professionals. He also reads the latest LinkedIn posts from Covenant Group CEO Norm Trainor, a Toronto-based strategic consultant and executive coach. In addition, he also encourages regularly visiting company websites – like the Sun Life Financial website, which has an advisors’ section that offers advice on practice and customer relationship management.

For industry intelligence

Advocis, the Financial Advisors Association of Canada, is a great source of industry news, says Mr. McMillan. A noteworthy feature on the website is the regulatory alerts and bulletins sub-sections, which summarize key developments and breaking industry news. He notes that Advocis also hosts a symposium each fall to discuss changes in the industry. He recommends joining Advocis for access to their magazine and website, and following the association on Twitter.

For needs analysis

Put away the spreadsheets. Sophisticated software can streamline planning for clients and provide value-add material such as graphs, charts and interactive “what-if?” scenarios. Mr. McMillan cites NaviPlan and PlanPlus as examples of these useful technology tools.

Added value for clients

More often than not, the process of creating and advancing a plan opens the doors to other topics. Maybe a client about to become an empty nester has questions about the best neighbourhoods to rent an apartment, or just wants to find a better way to stay on track with life goals. Ms. Markman points to some of the tech tools and platforms she finds particularly useful for clients: PadMapper for finding rentals, peer-to-peer money transfer service TransferWise to send money overseas, and PPSA.ca for checking liens and searching land titles.

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