News, Vision & Voice for the Advisory Community
Dragon Dictation, Time Tracker and, surprisingly, iTunes are among those cited by advisors
March 16, 2011 — 2:32 PM UTC by Judy Messina
Take a virtual stroll through the Apple App store and you’re likely to be overwhelmed by what you find there. For the iPhone and iPad, there are upwards of 350,000 different apps – everything from games to news to market trackers and tools for helping sales people be more productive. But finding the ones that will really help you manage your business and interact easily and productively with clients and colleagues can take some trial and error. Fortunately, many apps are free and others can be downloaded for a nominal sum. Some apps are free for the basic functionality and then require payment for more extensive features.
Many investment advisors use apps that are mobile versions of CRM services they use in the office to manage accounts and client relationships. But what about the news or stock quotes or apps to help you manage your time or plan your travel? The choices can be confusing because there are so many apps that perform similar functions. One way is to check out the numerous sites, including the Apple iTunes store, that review new and popular apps and give stars for utility and entertainment value. But getting the lowdown from other users can be equally, if not more helpful.
RIABiz contributor Judy Messina talked to three investment advisors to see what apps they are using and which ones they find especially helpful in their practices.
They all use iPhones and/or iPads, but Android users can find similar choices – and in some cases, Android versions of the same apps – for their smart phones.
A personal assistant that can steer you to a Chinese restaurant
Andrew Oster, president of Oster Financial Group in Edmond, OK, is a trained techy. A computer engineering major in college, he uses both an iPhone and an iPad and often browses the app store to find new and interesting apps. Among his favorites right now are Dragon Dictation, for converting voice to text, Log Me In, which gives him access, again via his iPad or iPhone, to his laptop and office computer when he’s on the road and the Siri Personal Assistant, which accomplishes simple tasks such as locating a restaurant for lunch. All are free.
What kinds of tasks do you use Dragon Dictation for? I use it for dictating notes and writing and sending emails on the go. I’ll dictate and Dragon will convert it to text. If I select an email address, it attaches a standard signature and I can send it through.
How good is it at recognizing speech and transcribing it accurately?
If it misses an individual word, I can tap the word and select an alternative. It continues to learn and over time recognizes that a certain piece of sound corresponds to a particular word more than to other words. I have been really using it more in the last four weeks and I’m starting to see better success in recognition.
How about LogMeIn? What makes it so useful?
I have two offices and I use it to log in and get a screen shot of any of my computers no matter where I am. I can also do anything on [those computers]. I use the free service but if you pay for a subscription you can transfer files and do other things like print on a printer attached to that computer.
Everyone would like to have a personal assistant. How good is Siri at doing the kinds of tasks an assistant would do?
It uses speech recognition and ties into a host of things. I can be driving along and say “nearest gas station” and it pulls up the GPS and plots out the nearest gas station within a couple of miles. I can have it search for restaurants, saying “nearest Chinese restaurant” and then make a reservation, say, through Open Table if the restaurant works with that service. You can order a taxi or if you buy movie tickets, you can pay directly through the app.
What do you use to get news and market updates?
I use Bloomberg. When I first got the iPad, the Bloomberg app was one of first things I downloaded. I can look at live feeds from Dow Jones and the S&P, commodities and currencies. It doesn’t cost anything and I can get at more data quicker.
Time Tracker increases profitability
Garrett Morgan, president of Fountainhead Wealth in Sacramento, Calif., is another tech savvy app user who is partial to CNBC for news and stock market updates. But he also uses an array of other apps to help him be more productive, including Time Tracker, a free app that keeps a record of how he’s spending his time, a business card scanner for keeping up with contacts, and the powerOne financial calculator, an inexpensive app that performs calculations he uses frequently. In addition, he uses a $5.99 app to read and store business cards.
Why would an investment adviser use Time Tracker, which seems like an app that would be used by people who bill by the hour?
It keeps track of the time you spend on a task. We use it in concert with our CRM software. You can create a list of tasks that correspond to tasks in the CRM. On the notes screen, you can store very detailed information about what you did and why and recapture it in the client file in the office. We have found that by accounting for all of our time during the day we get a clear picture of how much client facing activity we are actually doing. Now our team has ample justification for raising fees for clients who are simply more work or rewarding those are very little work by doing a little pro bono or just taking them to lunch a little more frequently. We now focus our time on the clients who deserve (not need or want) more of our time. This has led to better margins and, more importantly, better morale for advisors and staff.
You have an HP 12c Platinum financial calculator. Why pay $9.99 to download the powerOne?It combines an algebraic andRPN
What makes the World Card Business Card Scanner useful in your business?It captures and organizes business card data. I use it at conferences when I meet a bunch of people. I also like to send thank you cards to people. If you want to stay in touch with people, it makes all the difference in the world. I can take a picture of a business card and email it back to my staff in the office. It converts data to text so it can be pasted into theCRMand by the time, I’m back in the office it’s in our system and there’s a handwritten note on my desk to be signed.
iTunes is not just for music
Michael Argiro, an advisor at 4T Financial in Wallingford, Conn., is another user of Dragon Dictation and a similar app, Jott, which connects to his company’s CRM system, Redtail. But he also downloads iTunes offerings and logs into Zillow, a free real estate app that can home in on an address and display real estate values.
Most people use iTunes to download music? How do you use it your business?I use it for podcasts. A lot of companies do podcasts on practice management and other topics that are educational. I plug it and listen to a podcast while I’m running or exercising on the treadmill. Most of them are scheduled and you can listen at a time when it more convenient for you.
What is Zillow and how do you use it in your work as an investment advisor?It’s a real estate app that gives you the value of home. You can put in an address and get an aerial view of a house. I use it to do planning for clients, to get an estimate of value, especially since over the past few years, people may think their house is worth more than it is. You can also track sales.
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