It's never been easier to get financial guidance online, whether it's for insurance, banking, or investments. There are a variety of online tools and platforms ranging from calculators and questionnaires to wizards and apps, available to consumers in search of quick and affordable (if not free) financial resources. But what are the pros and cons of these platforms, and how do they compare to “IRL”, real, live financial solutions?
The decisions you make with your financial professional, whether in person or online, can have significant impacts on your financial and emotional well-being. While convenience is certainly desirable, there are still some matters best done the old-fashioned way, but with modern conveniences like virtual meetings and online account dashboards. Here are three reasons why.
Online financial tools are appealing for a variety of reasons. They offer convenience, 24/7 availability, and often lower fees than traditional financial services or no obvious fees (that doesn’t mean they’re not there, just a little harder to find). But while an online questionnaire can capture data and financial information, it’s less adept at capturing your emotions.
Conversely, a face-to-face meeting with a local financial professional allows them to get to know you personally. This can help them craft a strategy tailored not just to your data but to your personality, preferences, and emotions.
Using a web-based tool to manage your finances may seem like an easy way to stay organized and on track with your financial goals, but it's important to remember that there is still a human element involved in formulating financial strategies.
When it comes to your personality and financial priorities, they are entirely unique to you. Working with a financial professional in person puts your money persona on display, providing crucial insight that no number of online questionnaire questions can uncover.
Do your financial goals fit into a dropdown menu? Online platforms can be a great way to get the basics of retirement or investment planning under your belt, but nobody wants to feel like a list item, or worse, an “Other.” While an online tool can ask you questions and take in your answers, they can't always provide the right follow-up questions. And when the pre-packaged questions don't fit your situation, you can be left trying to figure out what to do next.
The same thing often applies to a customer service chat. At the end of the day, technology just doesn't go far enough to give you what you need in every instance. There are occasions where you need a human touch to provide the guidance and solutions you’re seeking.
What happens when there’s an issue? We’ve all been there – you’ve been going back and forth with a chatbot that can’t answer your questions, and you finally pick up the phone and what do you find? Another pre-programmed robotic voice listing out the same options you just went over with the A.I.. At the end of the day, you want to know that when something goes wrong, you can pick up the phone or hop on a video call with a real person to discuss real solutions.
A seasoned financial professional will ask the right questions to understand your unique goals and financial situation. They’ll want to get to know your long-term financial goals along with your risk tolerance, for example.
With this information at hand, they can then ask qualifying questions to determine the best possible solution for you, such as whether you have debt or any taxable investments.
Once a solution is in place, it's essential for consumers to understand financial contracts. With online tools, all that’s required is a click of the “Agree” button. A financial professional can explain the technicalities and make sure consumers are aware of hidden details such as increasing premiums, fees, or underwriting, something an online platform can’t, or won’t, do.
Online-only financial platforms have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their speed and convenience. But it's important to remember the reason they're so fast is that they're rigid by nature. They can only do what they're programmed to do, so you're likely to get a plan that comes close to your needs but might not be a perfect fit.
Having a financial professional at your side offers the flexibility to create a custom solution tailored to meet your individual needs. This is a significantly greater advantage than relying on an online tool for general advice and a generic plan. The longer you work with your financial professional, the better they get to know you, and the more able they are to bring solutions that truly fit your life.
Life happens, and situations change. Maybe you’re getting married or having your first child. Maybe you’re getting divorced, or just lost a parent and have to figure out what to do with the inheritance they passed down to you. These are real, emotionally charged events that require a certain level of connection and understanding to navigate. Your financial professional can bring a human-level of understanding to those situations that an online platform simply cannot.
Online tools may be convenient, but they simply can't provide the same level of personalized service that can be provided by a financial professional. Whether it’s forming a personalized understanding of your finances, being there when you need them, or having the flexibility to adapt and change with your situation, working with someone one-on-one can be a great way to get the most out of your finances.
This article is provided for general informational purposes only. Neither New York Life Insurance Company, nor its agents, provides tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal, or accounting professional before making any decisions.
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