Ex-paraplanner Rob Tedder is now Client Cashflow Solutions manager at i4C. As he will be presenting on cashflow forecasting at the Professional Paraplanner Technical Insight Seminars we thought we’d get to know him better through one of our ‘5 minutes with…’ interviews.
But being a paraplanner, he left no stone unturned, so we’ve split the interview into two sections: i4C: What it is and how it’s been developed and The Practical side for Paraplanners, looking at how it makes paraplanners lives easier and the challenges of cashflow adoption.
PP: What made you leave paraplanning behind and become more technology focused?
RT: I’d worked in financial services for about 15 years, 10 as a paraplanner. I was then presented with a life changing opportunity to work for a start-up technology business.
I used cashflow modelling in my previous firm and witnessed the transformational impact it and technology in general, can have on the success of a firm. It massively increased revenue and provided clients with better outcomes and service. I’ve lived that journey and seen it happen.
I wanted to share that experience and passion for lifetime financial planning and help firms adapt their processes to ensure maximum engagement and impact with clients. I love telling the success stories of how it has helped clients as well as businesses.
i4C: What it is and how it’s been developed
PP: What’s the history/background and backing of i4C?
RT: i4C was founded in 2016, but our origins go back further – to the experiences of the team at Bath-based Epoch Wealth Management (now Brewin Dolphin Bath).
The firm’s planning team became frustrated at the shortcomings of other financial planning software. They found them unwieldy, inflexible or overly simplistic. Outputs were difficult to interpret. So, they developed a solution in-house that better met planners’ needs. The seeds of i4C were sown.
Many influential financial planners were excited at early versions. In 2018, i4C was launched by our current team, intent on creating the industry’s leading cashflow modelling software.
The financial industry was crying out for something that was easy to use but ‘feature rich’ to enable planners to discuss and clearly demonstrate complex scenarios interactively with clients. i4C’s presence started to grow and it was soon used by some the industry leading financial firms. This didn’t go unnoticed.
In July 2019, i4C was acquired by Intelliflo which itself is part of the global Invesco group. Joining the group has given i4C access to greater resources and reach. There is massive investment in development of the i4C product for the benefit of users. The future is very exciting with some ambitious plans. But my lips are sealed for now.
PP: When creating the system what did you set out to achieve?
RT: It is widely accepted that cashflow modelling is an essential part of the planning process. However, not all planners have yet mastered cashflow modelling and are using it live and interactively with clients. We wanted to dispel the myth that cashflow was difficult or overly complex to present to clients.
The FCA emphasises demonstrating value in all aspects of the work that planning firms do for clients and ensuring compliance. Cashflow used effectively can demonstrate this and much more. It can change a client’s mindset from the everyday grind of working to 67 versus the potential to retire early and start tackling the “bucket list”. Simply thinking about the bigger picture is a good start.
At i4C we are really focussed on providing relevant support. Technology should do the hard work so more time is spent on developing client relationships. Or help tackle the advice gap and those clients who don’t have access advice.
We have a team of highly skilled ex paraplanners who really understand how cashflow can enhance advice processes. How it can be used to demonstrate the value in advice. How it can be used live and interactively with clients.
We think not using a cashflow software live is like having a Ferrari but putting a 30mph limiter on it. You will never fully unleash the true power of cashflow planning. This is our long-term vision. To help all planners easily embrace lifetime financial planning and place the emphasis on live and engaging use with clients. We want to help them at every stage of this process and be seen as more than just a cashflow software provider.
PP: In general terms, are you any different from other providers?
RT: Firms who have adopted i4C have seen significant growth in fees per head, clients and referrals.
i4C is a single unified software to be used by all planners, for all clients. Simple or complex, cashflow modelling is equally as relevant. Powerful technology should cater for both. The true power of cashflow modelling comes from using it live and interactively with clients. That’s why we built i4C to be highly intuitive, easy to use, engaging, and packed with functionality. The software should do the work for you.
We strongly believe cashflow modelling should be used in every client situation and become the backbone of a business, rather than just another tool in the kitbag.
i4C is comprehensive enough to handle all aspects of lifetime planning. All forms of inter-generational wealth transfer and tax planning. And, importantly, protection planning for catastrophe scenarios.
Tax is crucial given that, so often, the value of advice is in the tax planning.
The Practical side for Paraplanners
PP: What do you offer that might make paraplanners consider using i4C, i.e. how do you make paraplanners lives easier?
RT: There are a couple of gems that stand out from my time as a paraplanner – and this is reinforced from user feedback.
We don’t believe cashflow modelling should involve a data dump of numbers and graphs with very little context to be able to provide to clients after the initial discussion. It can bamboozle them.
So, we built a Scenario Comparison Report. This enables the user to compare any two scenarios within i4C and import the relevant data into simple tables over specific periods.
Paraplanners can extract data on assets, tax or estate on death perspective and identify the three key areas of value they are providing to a client. The ability to demonstrate value to clients is crucial. Paraplanners now don’t need to create their own tables or outputs for suitability reports.
Having been a paraplanner, I know there are never enough hours in the day. Any technology which saves time is crucial.
Another favourite is our Protection Wizard. As with many things, health is always more valuable after we lose it.
That is the underlying problem for those advising on protection plans. Quantifying the sum assured can be time consuming and generally fails to capture the client’s full attention. However, most firms acknowledge they aren’t helping clients enough in this area. As a planner you need to be able to demonstrate the need for cover – if clients can’t see the value of protection and that it is affordable, they will not proceed.
It’s engaging for clients when used live. It also ensures the firm has a compliant file and can demonstrate that catastrophe has at least been considered. It can easily identify business opportunities for planners.
Finally, we support our users with ex paraplanners. We understand what they are trying to do and how they want to use their chosen software.
PP: Individual cashflow models invariably change along the way, so what audit trail exists to help show how the final outcome was reached?
RT: This is crucial for an efficient process for the adviser, the paraplanner and compliance.
The transparent nature of i4C allows everyone to know what is happening and where. As a firm, you can easily set the assumptions, whether inflation rates or growth rates to be used by your planners. This gives consistency and control throughout your business.
i4C’s unique way of presenting data in a narrative format means there are no confusing lines of data. Clients can sense check information as if it were a story about themselves. They can even see their life plan set out on the timeline chart giving full visibility on what is happening and when.
We break numbers up into manageable chunks using data output screens. If you are a number cruncher you can get a summary of all data input and of calculations running behind the scenes. You can even see projections of asset value, costs, income and much more via the projection charts. This allows you to really get under the skin of the client’s plan.
We know how important it is to easily see the changes made between scenarios. And for those changes to feed from the baseline current situation to all scenarios. Changes away from the baseline scenario are highlighted in yellow in the narratives, whilst exclusions are detailed in red. You can export a summary of the inputs for each scenario (including these highlights). This creates snapshots in time for the file for anyone to easily understand how the plan was created.
Nothing is hidden ensuring clarity in client financial plans.
PP: What are the main challenges of companies when adopting i4C?
RT: Advisory firms have many different challenges facing them. Those that are successful are focussing on client proposition and how to adopt cashflow at the centre of this.
Regulatory pressures coupled with legacy processes mean firms don’t always have time to focus on the power of technology adoption. Rollouts can be disjointed. The most successful firms are the ones that are embracing technology transformation and understand the value and enhanced service it will give clients. Those firms are reaping the rewards.
At i4C we have focussed on building planner and paraplanners confidence in using cashflow technology. Technology is moving so quickly it’s natural for advisers to fear of being interrogated by the client and not necessarily being able to answer questions. That is a real focus of our training and support.
Client attitudes are changing fast in the digital age. They expect questions answered instantly via their tech of choice. Financial planning has to keep up with these changing trends.
i4C users tell us they are excited by the opportunity to discuss the bigger picture aspects of the planning with clients. It gives better conversations and thorough fact find information. All resulting in better client outcomes. Using i4C it is about investing time with clients to build their confidence in lifetime financial planning and integrating it fully into the client proposition.
PP: What are you going to be talking about at the 2020 Technical insight Seminars?
RT: I’m always excited at the chance to talk about cashflow planning! We’re going to be talking to paraplanners about how they can adopt technology within their roles to make themselves even more efficient.
We’ll focus on how cashflow modelling allows paraplanners to build a plan for a client, whilst giving a clear and consistent audit trail to satisfy compliance.
We’ll use interactive case studies to demonstrate how client questions can be answered easily. Also, how to encourage them and the adviser to think about the bigger picture.
Focus will be on the ease of use and timesaving i4C can give. How multiple scenarios can be used best to create clear outputs which clients can understand. We want to demonstrate this can be done without spending hours on data inputs or expensive training courses.
With great technology shouldn’t need to invest in weeks of training to deliver better outcomes for clients.