Kelley Rating(one asterisk = lowest, five asterisks = highest):

  • Ease of navigation, design of interface and learning curve ******
  • Instructional documentation and help system ***
  • Carries out the goal of the product as advertised *****
  • Overall usefulness ****

Many professionals use Outlook as a client information database. Now, the web-based application service ClientVision 1.0 (AdviceAmerica) expands Outlook 2007 so that users have access to a whole new dimension of client information.

It increases Outlook’s data storage and organization abilities to include extensive client financial, personal and contact information. ClientVision gives users the ability to collaborate easily with the client’s other advisors, access client data, and work without the need of desktop software applications nor the support of an internal IT system.

ClientVision integrates each Outlook client record with a web-based facility so that in-depth information on the client’s finances, dependants, advisors and financial and retirement goals are immediately available through the client record. Outlook continues to function in its usual manner, but allows Outlook users to manage and view clients’ portfolios, goals, financial documents and financial history in a single application.

ClientVision may appear to be a mere upgrade of Outlook. But its screens are actually displaying information maintained on the ClientVision website. You may login directly through your browser to access the data you have entered without having Outlook immediately available to you.

ClientVision includes online document storage and retention and integrates with other AdviceAmerica financial planning applications. It is positioned between the high-end enterprise client relationship management (CRM) systems and low-end contact management systems. Although this product is designed as a CRM for financial advisors, it serves well as a case management facility for other trusts and estates professionals, such as attorneys and accountants. The CRM concept’s penetration into the law firm environment is discussed in Marketing Technology Trends by John D. Bowers and Is CRM Worth It? The Pros and Cons of Client Relationship Management by Simon Chester, Doug Cournelius, Connie Crosby and Ross Fishman.

The ClientVision add-on includes a Document Vault that allows users to upload client documents such as financial plans, wills, insurance policies or estate documents for online storage and easy retrieval.

Features that improve collaboration and efficiency include:

  • integration of client financial information with Outlook contacts, email, calendar and task management functions;
  • coordination with AdviceAmerica’s AdvisorVision financial planning application;
  • collection of account data from sources such as Albridge, Pershing and TD Ameritrade in real time;
  • continuous updating of client details entered by all advisors about the client or members of the client’s planning team in Outlook from the centralized ClientVision data area; and
  • a complete history of client communications and recommendations.

Competitors

Software platforms for client relationship management include Goldmine, ACT! (data from which may be imported by ClientVision) and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

See CRM Software Provider for information on these programs and a comparison of Goldmine and ACT!.

What’s It All About?

ClientVision requires that you already have Outlook 2007 on your computer. It is installed by download from the publisher’s website and requires the installation of Windows Installer and Microsoft.Net. A QuickStart Guide is furnished to help you with installation.

After installation, a ClientVision drop-down menu is added to the top bar of Outlook, a ClientVision tab is added to the Contact ribbon and a CV/ClientVision button appears for each contact.

To enter the additional inputs for ClientVision, select Contacts and open any contact. Click on the CV/ClientVision button to open ClientVision. Then click on the ClientVision tab at the top of the Contact screen to display the ClientVision ribbon. The ribbon is divided into Personal Info, Financial Info, History and Reports.

Personal Info permits the entry of information for the client (in more detail than Outlook), the client’s dependants, the client’s advisors and notes relating to the client.

The Financial Info area includes:

  • a Risk Assessment questionnaire;
  • Client Goals (retirement planning, estate planning and others);
  • Liabilities (which can be listed by client, spouse and joint);
  • Annual Income (which can be listed by client, spouse and joint);
  • (life, long term care and disability for the client and their spouse);
  • Expenses (by type with entry for retirement annual expenses); and
  • Assets (which can be listed by client, spouse or joint). The assets section includes a summary and pie chart by asset type. For each type of asset, you may bring up a subscreen for entry of additional details for individual assets, such as the symbol and quantity for a stock holding.

The Goals screen lets you enter detailed parameters for the client goals for retirement accumulation, worth accumulation and educational costs. Under Estate Plan on the Goals screen you may indicate the estate planning documents the client has and enter details for each.

The History area under Client Tasks lets you enter a To Do list with regard to this client. Under Activity Report you may enter other tasks that are not necessarily client-specific. This feature provides a very useful history of your client contacts and task performance. On any email you may right click and select Send to CV from the menu that appears, select the desired contact and have this email added to the Activity list. The Opportunity Report provides you with an area to enter potential firm revenue related to various Transaction Types and Product Types.

Reports lets you address Portfolio Holdings, Current Asset Mix (which displays graphics and a table listing each asset class and its weighting within the clients portfolio), Net Worth (which displays a bar chart and table of assets with details on assets and liabilities), and Cash Flow (which displays a bar chart and a table listing income and expenses). Reports include a Financial Overview (a graphic and tabular summary of goals/objective, net worth, cash flow, assets and portfolio) and the ability to generate reports (select Word, Word 2007 or PDF to generate a report for printing).

The Document Vault enables you to store client documents online at a basic level.

Data maintained by ClientVision can be exported into Microsoft Excel, then exported in a variety of formats. For example, data can be exported in delimited data formats and applied by other programs such as those that generate estate tax returns.

ClientVision on-line can be accessed without going through Outlook contacts by selecting Mail from the navigation pane in Outlook, clicking on ClientVision and selecting a contact.

How Secure is it?

Data security is always a concern when evaluating web-based facilities. Client information entered in ClientVision is kept in a secure SAS 70 Type II certified data center. Data and documents are automatically backed up daily.

The publisher claims “strong encryption (SSL) protects all browser-server communication. Session information and user passwords are also encrypted. The database is behind a firewall, only accessible by our application under the appropriate permissions; there is no access from the outside world. The solution supports multiple single sign-on products with encrypted authorization tokens. User permissions are role based and can be configured at various levels of granularity. AdviceAmerica data adaptors also use strong encryption when pulling data from various sources. The data center is located in a facility with 24x7 security and restricted access.”

What About Help and Support?

The Quick Start guide provides a very clear exposition of both installation and operation of the product. Context sensitive help is available at each ClientVision screen.

Where Do You Get This Software?

This software is available through the publisher:

AdviceAmerica
3179 Skyway Court
Fremont, CA 94539-5910
Phone: (510) 824-3777
Fax: (510) 824-3776
Email: Contact form at www.adviceamerica.com/AAcorp/contact_us.html
Website: www.adviceamerica.com/AAcorp/index.html

ClientVision is $399 per year or $199 per year for users of other AdviceAmerica products. A 30-day free trial is available.

Bottom Line

ClientVision is an inexpensive, user-friendly product that greatly facilitates the storage and handling of client data. It broadens your entry into client relationship management as well as client financial, retirement and estate planning.

Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley—a respected connoisseur of the software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices. Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo. and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Neb. He is the co-author of the Intuitive Estate Planner Software, (Thomson – West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Committee on Technology in the Practice of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at dhkelley@qwestoffice.net.