i4C: why we launched a cashflow planning tool

i4C chief executive Mark Harman says the fintech firm’s cashflow modelling tool can offer advisers and clients alike simplicity and flexibility, while ticking the compliance box.

Fintech company i4C has launched a cashflow modelling tool after becoming frustrated with ‘the shortcomings of well-known financial planning software’. The tool has been developed in conjunction with former New Model Adviser® cover star Jon Rolfe, partner at Bath-based Epoch Wealth Management.

i4C chief executive Mark Harman (pictured) sat down with Ollie Smith to explain more.

Fintech company i4C has launched a cashflow modelling tool after becoming frustrated with ‘the shortcomings of well-known financial planning software’. The tool has been developed in conjunction with former New Model Adviser® cover star Jon Rolfe, partner at Bath-based Epoch Wealth Management.

i4C chief executive Mark Harman (pictured) sat down with Ollie Smith to explain more.

There are already several popular cashflow modelling tools in the market. What makes yours unique?

Simplicity and flexibility should not be mutually exclusive. There are some products out there that I would call very ‘feature rich’. And there is some stuff out there that is quite straightforward.

The trouble we have found is that some applications are just too complicated for all advisers to use with all their clients, and a lot of them are too simple.

What variation across the UK have you seen in firms using cashflow modelling tools?

There are not that many firms using the same application for all advisers or for all clients, but there are some firms that are not using anything. They are still working off spreadsheets, or they might be using a small free tool from a product provider.

To be brutally honest, that is not good practice.

Personal Finance Society chief executive Keith Richards (pictured) has said cashflow modelling does not have to be integral to good financial advice. Do you agree?

I am sure you can give good advice without it. But if you think of some of the other pressures advisers are under in terms of client software, automation and the worry some clients will just take things into their own hands, it is a different story.

Cashflow planning allows advisers to engage those clients in a true long-term fashion. It helps them fight that digital war.

How would you describe the journey an adviser would go through while using your tool?

The input process is very intuitive, and designed for the adviser to adapt that and use it live with a client. But an adviser might not want to do that. They might want to go into a meeting with the forms already pre-populated through fact-find, and then build scenarios with clients. You can do all of that and more.

Running out of money really matters to clients. What projection allowances does the tool have?

The default life expectancy age is 100, but you can then build your scenarios by changing that number. This will help clients understand the implications of building in long-term care costs.

Why have you chosen a model that is fully integrated, rather than having separate tools within the programme?

We have done this in one unified application rather than a whole series of tools so clients can have 10 different objectives. Very often some of those objectives might be complementary, but some might be paradoxical. There has to be one unified tool to manage those trade-offs.

How much does it cost?

We charge a standard monthly user fee of £60. We support that with a lot of training for advisers through our training team. We also have a pretty rich information community, so advisers will have access to that.

What compliance benefits does the tool have?

It will track the scenarios you have built, and show the changes you have made in building the scenarios and making recommendations to clients. You can demonstrate within the model exactly which factors you were taking into account when advising clients.

How do you expect advisers to use the tool?

The tool works on laptops, iPads and desktops. The perfect scenario is that the adviser is sat side by side with the client working through it on a laptop, or they could be plugged into a TV screen at the office or at their home. It is all web-enabled.

Has it been popular so far?

It has been popular. There are some firms out there that are pretty well versed in cashflow modelling. They know where it should sit within their advice process.

And there are other firms to whom the concept is new and they have a basic training requirement. We cut the cloth accordingly.

Read more: Advisers reveal their favourite cashflow planning tools

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