I'm a huge fan of Voyant's software and usually go out of my way when meeting financial advisers to encourage them to start using it, if they are not already doing so.
First of all to be clear - this is not because of any commercial arrangement that I have with Voyant to be out there promoting their software to advisers, because no such arrangement is in place.
I've 2 reasons for being such a fan. The first is because I've seen the impact that the use of Voyant can have on an adviser's business. The second is because of the impact Voyant has had on my own financial planning.
The impact of Voyant on advisers' businesses
One of the busiest areas for me over the last few years has been helping advisers transform their businesses from a financial dependency on the products that they sell to a financial model where their income is based on the advice given to clients. This results in a more stable and lasting income stream that can be easily justified to clients, the regulator and any other interested party!
However when basing your business around advice, it's of course not enough to simply advise clients on the best product to buy. Clients want financial guidance, they want to avoid making mistakes and want to put their limited financial resources to best use. They want to be able to plan for the future with confidence. Because at the end of the day, clients don't think in terms of how much money they have or need. They think in terms of what they are going to be able to do
in the future - this might be to retire early, to put their kids (or grandchildren) through college, maybe to buy a place in the sun in the years to come. Clients have these pictures in their head. The value that you can bring is to make the pictures the reality by guiding clients on how to achieve these goals financially.
And this is where Voyant comes in! Voyant enables you to build scenarios for your clients that show the impact of different financial inputs (your income, pension contributions, your investment portfolio, regular savings, protection products) and of outputs (lifestyle costs, expenditure, financial commitments, unexpected events). Now you can have real conversations with your clients about what their money can do for them, rather than how much they might have. This is real advice that clients will pay for year after year, creating that durability in your income stream and value in your business.
Of course financial products will often be needed to make these lifestyle goals the reality. But now the conversation is all about lifestyle rather than focusing on the products. For those of you that use Voyant regularly, you know there are also many other uses for it - looking at ARF bomb-out risk, calculating the correct amount of life cover etc.
Voyant to my mind is a critical element in transforming you from being a product picker to becoming a true financial planner or adviser.
The impact Voyant had on my own finances
I worked in life companies for 27 years, am a QFA and when I left in 2011, I was pretty confident that I knew my financial situation. I didn't have a financial adviser.
Roll forwards about 18 months when I started working with my current financial adviser because I had a straightforward product need - I needed to put income protection in place. So he did that, but then he got me (and my wife) talking... About how we saw the future shaping up, our hopes and dreams, our objectives around our son's education, holidays, targeted income in my business, big purchases, retirement, wealth transfer and the rest.
He plugged this information into Voyant. Now I already knew my financial situation at that stage and also had a good sense of how I was fixed financially when I reach retirement age. But I knew nothing about the intervening years. The value of Voyant for us was that it clearly demonstrated that based on our current financial picture, I was going to run out of cash at age 53 and effectively be underwater for 4 years then. This was a real shock to the system!
So the conversation changed completely. How were we going to close the gap? What did this mean in terms of reducing our outgoings? What "big spends" had to go on hold? What did it mean in terms of our investment and pension portfolio management?
And that has become the conversation now each year. Not how my products are doing (which of course is also important), but if our objectives will be achieved. Thankfully with the guidance of my adviser I'm now not going to be struggling at age 53, the gap has been closed. That to me is really valuable financial advice that is worth paying for.
It's for these two reasons that I'm a big fan of Voyant.