Numbers Game

When evaluating technology, advisers increasingly focus on the client experience

Their main goal, according to early returns from our new survey, is now to improve their digital touch points with clients

Feb 8, 2019 @ 2:00 pm

By Matt Sirinides

Our 2019 Adviser Technology Study, sponsored by TD Ameritrade and Laserfiche, is now open; advisory firms interested in leveraging competitive benchmarking intelligence around their technology can take the survey by clicking here.

Technologies that place the end-client experience at the forefront of design and business strategy have long been a staple of consumer technology giants, but for independent advisories, firm partners and their technology decision-makers, paying close attention in this area is a recent phenomenon.

Advisers have increasingly been turning their primary focus away from building a better back office and have begun improving their digital touch points with current and prospective clients in earnest, according to our in-progress adviser technology research. While there is still plenty of progress to be made in the areas of adviser adoptions, service efficiencies and data integrations, the end-client investor experience has taken center stage in priority.

Percentage of advisory firms whose top consideration is "client experience" when evaluating the firm's current technology, 2013-present

InvestmentNews fields a benchmarking study on independent adviser technology every two years, collecting management, spending, usage and strategy data around firm technology. This year, our focus is on best practices for building a better client experience through improved digital touch points and a sound technology strategy. It will explore the digital products (e.g., client-facing portal, digital account opening) and features (e.g., collaborative dashboards, paperless transactions) being used by advisers, their motivations for leveraging them, and the outcomes they're experiencing.

In a separate technology study fielded last year, when we asked advisers what they believe their clients would most like to see improved in the service they were receiving, the No. 1 response, by a sizable margin, was "Have a better technology or digital experience." That came in above responses such as "Deliver better investment outcomes" and "Provide more services," clearly demonstrating that advisers see the digital experience they deliver as lacking when compared to other core value propositions.

Putting yourself in the position of your client: If your typical client could improve one thing regarding your firm's service, what would it be?
Source: An Adviser's Guide to Investors' Digital DNA; InvestmentNews, Oranj (2017)

This awareness and renewed focus come not a moment too soon. Technology companies are entering the investment, personal finance and banking space at breakneck speed, with plans to activate investor cash through a mobile-first, customer-experience-driven technology strategy. Any advisory businesses that want to stay relevant into the foreseeable future of today's tech-first landscape will have to keep up in order to thrive.

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