Morningstar Magazine - June/July 2017 - 68

Strategies

10 Technology Years in the Life
of a Financial Advisor
From snail mail to the cloud,
we've come a long way.

TAX WISE

Sheryl Rowling

In honor of Morningstar magazine's 10-year
anniversary, I was asked to go off-topic for this
issue's column. This article will look at
technology's role in my practice over the past
10 years.
I'm old enough to remember the Dark Ages
of preparing tax returns by hand. We used huge
columnar pads and pencils as well as adding
machines. In the Middle Ages, when tax programs
became available, we happily sent data
sheets for processing by either courier or mail.
I also remember the first desktop computers.
We took turns using the few computers in the
office. It was certainly a time-saver when
calculating depreciation for multiple assets (insert
sarcasm). We had to do all of the input first
before calculating the spreadsheet, which could
take 30 minutes or more.
Technology has advanced exponentially in the
past 10 years. Now, financial advisors like myself
rely heavily on computers to track clients'
portfolios and to assist with performing many
necessary tasks. Let's take a trip back in time and
fast forward to today while I compare technology
in my practice then and now.
Financial Planning

Then: Spreadsheets
Now: MoneyGuidePro
Central to any financial advisory practice is
financial planning. Ten years ago, we couldn't find

68

Morningstar June/July 2017

financial planning software that could
handle state income taxes or unmarried couples-
nor could we find software that was not too
complicated for data input or in its client
presentations. So, we used a combination of
self-created integrated spreadsheets and editable
Word documents. After many years of this
method, we found it difficult to keep up with tax
law changes and discovered that financial
planning software had evolved. We began using
Naviplan. It was a huge improvement.
However, about five years ago, we were "forced"
to switch to MoneyGuidePro (don't ask). We
really liked its structure, client output, and ability
to work with clients interactively.
CRM

Then: Junxure basic
Now: Junxure Cloud
In the old days, we kept track of clients using
database tools such as FoxPro. It was antiquated
MS-DOS software. When CRM software
designed specifically for financial advisors came
out, we jumped on the bandwagon with
Junxure. We used Junxure 10 years ago and have
continued to use it. What's different between
then and now? We started with using only the
basic functionalities, and now we rely on
Junxure as the hub of our office. Not only does
Junxure contain all of our client information,
it also integrates with PortfolioCenter (our portfolio
accounting software that we've used for
over 10 years). We have clients' investment
details at our fingertips, and it retains all email
correspondence between us and our clients,
holds notes from client meetings, communicates
information and assignments to and from

employees, contains workflows, allows
segmentation of clients, sends out mass emails
to all clients or particular groups, and is
our paperless filing room. Although Junxure is still
server-based in our office, we plan to convert
to Junxure Cloud this year.
Rebalancing

Then: iRebal
Now: Morningstar Total Rebalance Expert
Believe it or not, 10 years ago, we were using
rebalancing software. Going from manual
rebalancing (or spreadsheets) to automation
changed our lives. What was a huge project that
could only be attempted four times a year
became "as needed" throughout the year with
minimal effort, no trade errors, and maximum
tax efficiency. In the beginning, choices
were limited, and we went with iRebal. It made
a "day and night" difference in our practice,
but it cost $50,000 per year and took two of us 20
hours a week for six months to get up and
running. Then, it was acquired by a custodian.
We were concerned that, at some point,
the software wouldn't be available to us.
Knowing that we never wanted to be without
rebalancing software, that the only other
product available was too complicated to use
(as reported by my right-hand person who helped
me implement iRebal and did two demos
with the competitor), and that there was nothing
on the market (including iRebal) that did
everything I envisioned in rebalancing software,
I made a naive decision: I would build a
rebalancing software that was affordable, easy
to implement and use-and took tax efficiency
to the nth degree. As crazy as that decision
was, my vision became reality in Total Rebalance
Expert (now Morningstar Total Rebalance Expert).
Remote Access

Then: Stuck in the office
Now: Microsoft remote server access from anywhere
Ten years ago, it was not possible to truly work
remotely. We could create files on our home
computers and send them via email to ourselves,
or for big files, we could save to a thumb
drive. The only way to share information



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