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Customizing Reports in an Automated World

  • August 4, 2017


Let’s just admit it: automation sometimes makes our lives easier. The “if, then” structure of software code sets processes in motion for everything from our online banking to transportation systems to home automation (if the temperature in my house drops below 68 degrees, my smart thermostat will turn it up before I get home at 6:15 pm).

But sometimes, automation doesn’t quite fit our needs. Custom solutions are expensive, time consuming and can be error-prone. They are hard to replicate and consistency is unpredictable. But custom solutions tend to be more personal, tailored and can often show a greater end value.

So how do you find a happy medium between automation and customization when preparing reports? Enter configuration.

Document Configuration: A Happy Medium

We have met with dozens and dozens of advisor firms and one of the recurring topics that inevitably comes up is the need for some level of report customization. You want to stand out. Cookie-cutter reports, with pre-defined fields that look like every other report on the shelf, aren’t going to cut it for you in this competitive world. You want to insert your own opinions and data – charts, graphs, meaningful information. The data provided has to add value to your client conversation and be actionable. One-size-fits-all reports may not fit your needs.

But here’s the catch: the reports also need to be quick and easy to generate.

So at Fluent, we listened and really understood your pain points. Customization is vital for some areas, but automated data import saves time and money, reduces errors, and makes the process able to be duplicated/repeated. We really looked at what parts can be automated and what parts need your expert input to work for your clients.

Then we heard how regulations and compliance make reporting more complicated and challenging. With the rules changing constantly, how can you stay on top of reporting to make sure you are doing what is necessary? Customization won’t allow for ongoing updates, so this is a real problem. Again, listening and understanding these pain points led us to develop a checklist solution, incorporated directly into our product, that will always reflect the latest requirements for both regulations and compliance. Because the system is Cloud-based, you never have to worry about your software being out-of-date.

Templates With a Twist

Using Fluent’s templates, we have developed a compromise between automation and customization – a document configuration solution. The compliance and data exhibits are the standardized, automated portions of the reports, but custom information is important to you and can be easily added to reports without the fear of missing vital sections or running afoul of any regulatory issues.

Document configuration allows for specific features, including:

  • Customized report branding for the enterprise or the advisor
  • Rearranging the report’s table of contents to convey a unique message or “story”
  • Disabling exhibits and sections at will
  • Uploading and integrating new exhibits or messaging directly into templates
  • Locking down required sections so they ALWAYS appear and the report stays in compliance

Document configuration allows you to add and customize information, yet still work within a framework that keeps things consistent, expediting enterprise requirement review and approval.

Incorporating customer feedback in UtopiaAdvisor, Fluent’s tool kit for retirement plan advisors, we believe we have found the perfect mix of automation and custom information with our document configuration capability. With little effort or compliance/regulatory risk, our customers are able to input what is most important and let the software automate the rest for repeatable reporting documents that look custom and professional every time. Document configuration is the happy medium between automation and custom reports.

Learn more about Fluent Technologies’ and UtopiaAdvisor. Visit

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