Hard Copy or Virtual Financial Plans?


The push to go virtual for all paperwork has been evident for many years in a variety of settings.  Schools are often just sending home information through email, where before it was the backpack express that brought home news from the school. Banks have been increasingly pushing the utilization of digital delivery of statements over hard-copy mailings. Even doctor offices have joined in the electronic delivery of information, providing after-visit summaries through online access vs. providing a hard-copy at the end of the visit.

Financial services have also seen this, with statements, trade confirmations, and a variety of other communications. Most of this is simply a reduction in paperwork, however some of the movement towards digital comes with positive changes. The creation of financial plans has also moved to a more digital platform, which has allowed for the usage of interactive computer models. These interactive models allow investors the ability to run various scenario modeling and updating in real time, not just when the investors are with their financial advisor.

When investors are offered the option of which method to receive their financial plan, there is still a leaning towards hard copy, with 38 percent of investors preferring a hard copy presentation of their financial plan that they can take home and review. Seventeen percent of investors would prefer the option of the interactive computer model that would allow various scenarios and modeling. The largest percentage of investors would actually prefer both a hard copy as well as access to the interactive computer model, with 45 percent of investors preferring to receive both.

The preference towards the interactive computer model is highest among Millennials, which is not surprising given they have the highest comfort level with technology. Over a third of Millennials would prefer to have their financial plan to be given to them through an interactive computer model that allows for scenario modeling. While very few older investors would only like the interactive computer model, four percent among WWII investors, over half of these investors want to receive both hard copy and the interactive computer model.





Regardless of what method the financial plan is delivered, there are some distinct opinions as to who should create the financial plan. Many financial advisors take the approach of using estate planning experts to create the plan, then the advisor simply delivers and explains the plan. This approach to the development of financial plans is preferred by only 19 percent of investors, while 45 percent of investors would prefer the advisor create it themselves, then explain it to the investor. Over a third of investors are indifferent to who creates the financial plan, with 36 percent feeling there is no difference between estate planning experts creating the plan, or their financial advisor creating the plan.

Investors who are interested in the computer modeling option should reach out to their advisor to see if their financial plan can be offered in that format. If it can not be offered in that format, investors need to determine if the ability to run various scenarios matters to them or not.