Over the 20 years since its advent, account aggregation has evolved significantly, making it one of the most robust client service tools CFP® practitioners can use. What was once simply a way to track investments has become an indispensable tool in the delivery of comprehensive financial advice.
Demand for account aggregation is driven by our increasing reliance on the internet for all aspects of our lives. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Treasury released a report about fintech and innovation that showed 90 percent of American adults are online, and 77 percent own a mobile device with advanced features1. The Department of Treasury also found that by 2020, the agency expects 40 times more digital data to be generated.
Americans are now “always on,” their lives are linked to the internet. Mounds of paper got replaced by multiple devices and apps. This means your clients now have access to more financial data and their related accounts than they ever have before. This presents an enormous practice-building opportunity for firms that leverage account aggregation to get deeper insight into clients’ financial lives.
Existing Need for Account Aggregation Capabilities
A recent CitiBank survey found 64 percent of U.S. adults use multiple apps and bank websites to monitor their financial accounts2. However, 79 percent prefer a single app or platform where they can go to see all their financial data.
Your clients are looking for ways to merge and leverage their fiscal data for financial planning, and they’re looking to you to provide those exceptional account aggregation solutions.
There are several benefits to meeting this client need, including improving client retention. Automatically collecting their account data from a variety of financial institutions allows your firm to create sticky experiences for clients by providing them with a single portal for all of their financial information.
You also can eliminate error-prone, manual entry of client data into financial plans, performance reporting, CRMs, and client portals, allowing time to focus on activities that add value. This can help with compliance with the CFP Board’s new standard on technology and significantly revised Code and Standards. Both require use of technology and enhanced accuracy in client data collection.
Using account aggregation dashboards, your firm can build comprehensive views of client finances quickly and easily. This offers your clients digital planning experiences, based on accurate financial data, that eliminate paper reporting. Account aggregation dashboards provide several approaches to doing this.
Different Types of Financial Data Aggregation
According to financial planner, Michael Kitces, there are six stages or levels of account aggregation for clients, spanning account, advice, and automation tiers3. These levels get progressively more complex, and today’s aggregation solutions are only beginning to perform at the highest levels.
The most basic levels of account aggregation allow you to collect data from your clients’ multiple apps and online accounts and add that data to a “one-stop” financial resource on your platform. Aggregating accounts this way allows you to have a complete overview of your clients’ financial pictures. That includes adding accounts “held away” to automated advice and execution tools to your client’s dashboard.
With the most robust account aggregation program, you can incorporate all levels of data aggregation, allowing you to offer the most comprehensive financial advice and planning available. You can provide clients holistic portfolio performance reporting, full net worth reporting, including all their assets and liabilities, and categorized cash flow tracking.
At the most advanced levels, you can offer continuous monitoring with proactive planning notifications, allowing you regular opportunities for interaction with your client. With automated advice execution, data-driven triggers enable implementation of your client’s predetermined planning strategy, without advisor intervention, using data from the client accounts.
How Data Aggregation Powers Firm Growth
Now, more than ever, offering your financial planning clients a comprehensive account aggregation dashboard allows you to strengthen your relationship through more transparency and greater collaboration. This not only facilitates client retention, but also can accelerate firm growth opportunities.
By providing your clients with robust account aggregation dashboards and related apps, you also can grow share of wallet by identifying assets not under management and offer comparable products, or charge for assets held away. You’ll enhance the client experience with automatic, accurate, and timely updates of financial data while relieving advisors of the need to present paper statements.
Winning over prospects using account aggregation dashboards as a powerful “try before you buy” preview of the client experience becomes easier, too.
Account aggregation allows you to arm your clients with as much of their financial data as possible, in a safe and secure environment, so you can help them make even more informed decisions and gain additional transparency into their financial lives.
1. U.S. Department of the Treasury: A Financial System that Creates Economic Opportunities: Nonbank Financials, FinTech, and Innovation, July 2018
2. The Citi Mobile Banking Survey, February 2018
3. Kitces, Michael. “The Six Levels Of Account Aggregation #FinTech And PFM Portals For Financial Advisors.” Kitces.com. 2017. https://www.kitces.com/blog/six-levels-account-aggregation-pfm-fintech-solutions-accounts-advice-automation/.