Banc of America Investment Services Inc. is trying to get its brokers to think more like financial planners.
Ted Bowden, senior vice president of product and services for the Bank of America Corp. retail brokerage unit, said the idea is to encourage clients to talk about financial planning and, ultimately, invest more with his company.
Helping the brokers is software from netDecide Corp. that is installed on their personal computers. Mr. Bowden says the program helps brokers assess an investors total financial situation. For instance, they can use it to show clients the impact of investment decisions or how to plan for retirement or a childs education.
The Perspectives on Planning analysis incorporates all a clients assets at Banc of America Investment Services and other information the client provides to the broker. Eventually the service will be expanded to use data from other financial institutions where the customer has assets, Mr. Bowden said.
He said his company plans to come out with a version of the Perspectives on Planning service that consumers could access through the Internet and use themselves.
But the company hopes the service will prompt clients to talk with a financial planner. Once it delivers the analysis to consumers, theyre going to want to talk to someone about it, Mr. Bowden said.
The service is free to customers with at least $50,000 invested with the brokerage. Mr. Bowden said 65% to 70% of current clients qualify.
A spokeswoman for Tysons Corner, Va.-based netDecide said several other financial services companies, including bank brokerages, have licensed the software, which netDecide customizes for each client. She declined to say which companies.
Bank of America, of Charlotte, N.C., has invested in netDecide but would not say how much.
Dan Latimore, director of financial services at Mainspring Inc., a consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass., said services such as Perspectives on Planning enable the planner to give better advice quicker.
But they do not replace the broker, he said.
At the end of the day, theres still got to be a financial planner mediating between the consumer and the software.