Hand a client a scroll of numbers and dates — and the message of their financial history is lost. Offer them a timeline colorized and embedded with images — and their past, present and future is suddenly clear. Welcome to Lineal Timeline, an iPad app hoping to make history—even financial history—a visual feast. Users build customized timelines from a simple menu, adding titles, images (their own as well as stock images) and even color-coded categories. Want to find a moment quickly? A search option in the upper right corner is handy. Reps may be more familiar with columns of numbers, but put them in visually compelling graphic to make them real, visceral and fun. Clients will never glance at their watch during their financial check-up again.
Last Message has a digital bandaid. Keeping track of how much juice is left on your Android device (sorry iPhone users), Last Message will ping any contact you choose automatically. This free app runs behind the scenes, monitoring battery power, and then alerting contacts of your choosing via Twitter, email, text or even Facebook if your power dips below a certain percentage. Messages can be customized, as well as your contact list. So if you don’t respond to that one client we all have, who wants to know you’re available when they are—now they’ll know why.
Keeping track of technology, furniture and other physical assets scattered throughout your office might seem low-priority. Until a hurricane or some other natural disaster whisks them away. Now imagine an app that catalogs all the physical items at work, tracking warranty expirations, property insurance coverages — even storing an image of the item. Enter Home Inventory — a $19.99 app designed for home owners that business owners can hijack as well. Items can be added by a barcode scanner on your phone (think books, software, even digital tools), and receipts saved digitally as well. And everything can be backed up to your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch so you can grab a record even when away. Natural disasters can hit both home and offices. Having everything recorded is one less headache to handle when you really need it.
Clients still not getting how debt is a weight around their neck? Log them on to ReadyForZero, a $4.99 a month app that ties credit cards, student loans, auto loans and mortgages into one place. For reps, it’s a tool that can help clients get a mental grasp of their total debt. The app shows clients how much to pay each month to get to zero, and even prioritizes which debt should be tackled first based on interest rates. Plus payments can be made directly from the app.
No one has time to transcribe calls. But try to relocate something a client said during a recorded conversation—sometimes important for compliance purposes. There’s lots of rewinding going on. Not so with Calltrunk. Calls are recorded from any device — mobile, Skype or the office line — and stored in the company’s cloud-based servers. Users can pull up these calls from their phones or from a PC and search a recording for key terms. Instantly. Pricing is tailored from 8 cents a minute for those who just want to use the app sparingly, to $49.99 a month for unlimited phone and Skype minutes. There’s a 30-minute free trial—just enough for a quarterly check-in with that speed-talking client.
Still thumbing through a rubber-banded stack of business cards? CardMunch digests that problem in a snap. After taking a digital snapshot of the card, the app uses transcribers to input data into a contact list (Yes, they use actual human beings). LinkedIn is now behind the app and requires an account with the social network. Users can pull up the LinkedIn profile of their contact — great for staying in touch with prospects, clients and those in your professional network. CardMunch also stores the card’s image, a nice feature for those with more of a visual memory. Plus the app alerts you when your information is transcribed and ready to view. Ditch the cards, and the rubber band.
We know how well speech recognition tools works. Talking into Siri may be fun — but dictating client notes and expecting them client ready? Not the norm. Until Talk It. A newly launched program, Talk It works on iPhones and designed for those in financial services and sales. The difference between Talk It and other apps? A live transcriber — one faster than you. Users dial into the service, speak their notes (yes, you can pause) and receive a pretty accurate transcription within about 8 hours by email. Starting at $72.50 a month for 100 minutes of dictation, or $800 a year for 300 minutes per quarter, it’s not cheap. But having clear notes digitally transcribed without typing them yourself? That opens up some client time — which is invaluable.
Reps are used to taking the pulse of their clients' investments. But what about the health of their own asset — their business? Unleash may be able to help out. In partnership with accounting software Quickbooks, the iPad app takes your financial pulse and generates a proprietary number it calls a "U-Score," essentially a grade of your business' fiscal health that can be compared to the competition. While still in beta mode, the app monitors small business data like accounts payable and helps with budgeting. It's not going to run a wirehouse CFO out of a job, but for small business owners, like many independent advisors, it can help easily monitor key financial metrics. That alone can reduce the stress of never quite knowing whether a small business is on track, or soon to derail.
So the name’s unpronounceable. But this free app can set in auto-motion nearly any online task, making quick work of a social media to-do list. Want to push a post out on Twitter? With IFTTT you set up a series of “triggers,” (i.e. “I’m mentioned in a blog post” or “I’ve taken an instagram photo”) and subsequent actions (i.e. “send the link to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn”). The app works with 59 online channels, including Evernote, Salesforce, Chatter, Tumblr and YouTube. Think of it as a one-stop service station to eliminate all the mundane clicking around online to get things done. Still can’t say the name? Not to worry. You’ll still look smart.
Hoping to retrieve a corner of digital privacy? Block trackers that link your browsing history to advertisements through DoNotTrackMe, a free app that installs on both PCs and Macs, preventing companies from collecting data based on your surfing habits. The app works on most browsers from Safari to IE, Chrome to Firefox. Users can even check how many trackers are being thwarted daily. (Think in the hundreds. Yes, really.) It’s a new year — time to clean the slate, and your browser.
There's a new app every day. Some are fun, some are practical, many are neither. Here, ten apps that can boost your productivity and manage your day on the go.
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