By Jay Palter
In the past year, Brian Laundry has increased his revenue by over 40 percent, while reducing his expenses by a similar amount and putting 25 percent less mileage on his vehicle.
These impressive results stem from his single-minded effort to digitize his financial planning and insurance practice and build a completely paperless operation.
Using a variety of software tools available in the marketplace today, including RazorPlan’s financial planning platform, Laundry has assembled his own customized technology suite that streamlines and automates his business – and the results are compelling. In the past year, Laundry has become a top-producing insurance and planning advisor without hiring a single new staff member.
THE 21ST CENTURY ADVISOR
Laundry has taken a decidedly technological approach to growing his business. While many advisors would invest in an assistant to increase their productivity, Laundry has invested in technology instead.
Laundry’s technology stack includes a customized version of Salesforce CRM in which he tracks his sales funnel and stores all of his client interactions and records digitally. He uses RazorPlan as the foundation for his clients’ financial planning needs and InForcePro for identifying opportunities for servicing in-force insurance policies.
Unsurprisingly, Laundry’s communications are completely digital as well. He uses a web-based platform for his email and calendar, and his iPhone and iPad Pro (in conjunction with an Apple pencil) give him complete access to his customer records and financial plans anywhere – virtualizing his office. Using the screen sharing app join.me and his computer webcam, he can also meet with clients remotely without leaving his office.
Laundry’s investment in technology isn’t just a personal interest – it has helped him solve a pressing business issue. He desperately needed to increase his capacity to manage a high volume of referrals. So he decided he’d no longer write big long reports. He stopped writing cover letters with insurance applications and now attaches a copy of the client’s financial plan produced by RazorPlan to each application. He’s also made a conscious decision to do business with insurers that offer the best electronic applications.
His goal is to be 100% paperless and do everything on the iPad – including signatures. More recently, he’s stopped printing anything at all. But avoiding paper doesn’t mean a lack of documentation. In fact, the opposite is true. “Every single client communication is tracked in the CRM. And I can generate a client summary with the push of a button,” says Laundry.
HOW RAZORPLAN FITS IN THE TECHNOLOGY STACK
Laundry became aware of RazorPlan about a year before he decided to implement it. He was drawn to the philosophy of financial planning on which RazorPlan is based. Namely, that a financial plan isn’t something to be prepared, looked at briefly and then filed away in a cabinet. It’s easier for clients to see the value of planning when they’re more directly involved in the process.
“RazorPlan has allowed me to take those numbers off the page, and bring them to life. And for most people I meet, I’m the only person who’s ever been able to do that for them.”
Before RazorPlan, when Laundry used to do a financial plan for a client, he would send the client his list of information requests and then spend days, often weeks, chasing clients down for their homework, before sitting down to prepare the plan on his own.
Now, instead of doing all the planning and report writing in advance, and presenting his hard-copy plan in a meeting, he invites his clients to participate in the planning process. The RazorPlan software allows him to shape the plan and his recommendations in real time, with instant feedback from the client.
“Before now, financial planning was kind of like the Wizard of Oz. Now I say, ‘we’re inviting you to this meeting, and we’re going to pull back the curtain.’ And the transparency of the process is going to give you confidence in the process, because you can see how it all works.”
After they’ve worked through the plan he sends everything to the client via email, so it’s in their inbox by the time they get home.
What does he say to advisors who insist that their clients require a 50-page printed plan? “I think the advisor needs it more than the client does. It can be a crutch. You can’t tell me that your clients do all their reading and banking on their iPad, but for some reason they need a paper report from you.”
In fact, he thinks it’s disingenuous to write overly detailed plans with illustrations down to the dollar. “As advisors, there are so many assumptions we need to make to come to our conclusions. It’s better to show the client in real time what an increase in inflation or a decrease in savings rate will do to their overall financial picture.”
“It has nothing to do with the complexity of the software – it has to do with bringing the numbers to life. Before RazorPlan, I’d never seen software able to do that.”
Brian Laundry’s website brands him as having “limitless energy” and it’s hard not to agree. He’s smart, passionate about the future, and incredibly hard-working. And he’s generous about sharing his insights and experiences about how he is navigating the increasingly digital world of financial advice.
Jay Palter | Social Advisory