Adviser tools: should you be upgrading from Excel?

Since 1987, Microsoft Excel has been an indispensable spreadsheet tool in the finance industry. Powerful but easy to use, it has become part of the skill set of workers in finance at all levels.

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More recently, new software solutions have appeared in the marketplace with the aim of dealing with Excel’s weaknesses. Which is better for financial advisers? The professionals are still divided. Financial

The advantages of Excel

The greatest plus point of Excel is that it can run customised calculations for just about any scenario. It benefits from a wide range of add-ons; therefore, it can import data, make forecasts, optimise portfolios, and output some good charts and reports. An example is ModelAdvisor’s What-if add-on, which offers a wider range of visuals to use in the presentation of charts and works well with Excel’s new touchscreen functionality. The advantage of such a ubiquitous application is that it is easy to find and hire an expert who can customise Excel’s features using tools such VBA and build custom presentations and models.

The alternatives

Clients are not necessarily looking for detailed analysis; instead, they may want to be presented with something simple that makes sense to them. Newer financial advisor software solutions are designed with the client in mind just as much as the financial adviser. These include straightforward answers presented in a way that is appealing and easy to understand. Tech firms such as now offer software solutions with easy client access and back office systems for financial advisers that merge seamlessly into one; in addition, the data is kept current and secure in the cloud rather than in a file on the adviser’s computer.

Which to choose?

Excel’s strengths are in operations and this is powerful tool with which to provide almost anything a client would require; however, as self-service and interactive finance is becoming more commonplace, the software solutions currently on offer are proving more client friendly.

Ultimately, whether to move from Excel to another platform is a matter of choice for the financial adviser. Excel is more than capable of handling the work, provided it is being operated by those with sufficient skills; however, clients are now coming to expect to be able to interact with online portals, which is a challenge using Excel alone.

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