CHICAGO - Financial services firms and advisors are relying on new technology and enhanced training to take a more holistic financial planning approach with clients.

"We recently, in 2012, completely overhauled our technology platform largely to empower a differentiated process," Patrick O'Connor, a senior vice presidents of wealth management solutions at Raymond James, told an audience of about 100 industry leaders at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Private Client conference on Thursday. "As we rolled out a new system at Raymond James last year called Goal Planning and Monitoring, we've firmly embraced a paradigm shift."

The goal is to have advisors be able to address more than investment needs with clients. According to Chris Thom, managing director of wealth strategies and advice at Charles Schwab, financial planning involves eight areas of concern: estate planning, investing, retirement planning, insurance needs, education, liability, lending, and the ability to analyze all those moving parts as part of one plan. 

Last year, Raymond James introduced its Goal Planning and Monitoring software, which allows advisors to map out a client's priorities in order to evaluate risk tolerance versus investment income or spending on travel compared to how much they want to put toward their children's education. Being able to put that on a screen and map out hypothetical scenarios has helped clients envision their finances, O'Connor said.

"The largest trend at Raymond James right now is advisors are running out and buying 42-inch, 50-inch, 60-inch flat screen TVs  for their office and conducting the planning experience leveraging technology as the centerpiece of that," he said. "Having this more robust conversation and using the technology to help bring that out simplifies that [process]."

To help advisors cover those eight different areas, UBS has slowed its hiring of advisors this year in order to bring on 50 trainees who will enter a two-year program to become financial planners, said David McWilliams, the company's head of wealth management transformation. The long-term goal for those trainees who completed the program successfully was to embed a financial planning expert with the largest advisor teams at UBS. They will assist those teams with all planning needs from risk tolerance questionnaires, aggregating assets, appointments and looking for new opportunities, he said. 

In addition to the trust and estate attorneys and accountants it has on staff, UBS is also hiring 15 in-house insurance professionals to go on appointments with advisors, McWilliams said. UBS also created a call desk for insurance policies and help take care of some of the advisors. 

McWilliams said one goal of the program was to show support from the firm as advisors took on additional client concerns. 

"Our financial advisors need leverage. They need help," he said. "They are not going to subject their business to something new without about giving them tools and resources to help them."

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