Clients Aren't Afraid of Technology. Are You?

Your clients are embracing technology in every aspect of their life. But does your practice offer technology that keeps pace? If not, it may cost you lost time and business.

Aug 1, 2019 @ 12:01 am

Tech-Savvy Advisors Have More Clients, Higher Assets Than Old-School Peers

Losing an assistant after four years with a practice might leave some advisors scrambling to keep up with scheduling and meeting preparations. Not Billy and Nick Vail with Integrity Wealth Advisors of Granger and Carmel, Indiana. The father-son team is weighing whether they still need a full-time assistant or if the technology they've implemented in their practice plus a part-time assistant would be a better approach.

It started with screen sharing, a widely used technology in business settings. The 30-something Nick said his 60-something father doubted older clients would accept screen sharing and a conference call instead of a face-to-face meeting.

“Dad has clients in their 60s using screen sharing just fine,” Nick said. “We send the link to the client 15 minutes before the meeting. If you need to look up information during the meeting, you can pause your screen and pull up what you need in the background then hit play when you're ready for the client to see your screen again.”

Screen sharing started the Vails on a path that research shows may lead to a more profitable financial practice. A recent study by Fidelity Investments examined how tech-savvy “eAdvisors" employ technology that spans all aspects of their practices.

The typical eAdvisor:

  1. Enjoys a 40 percent higher AUM than non-eAdvisors' median AUM
  2. Serves a higher percentage of Gen X and Y clients
  3. Serves 55 percent more total clients
  4. Has a higher percentage of millionaire clients
  5. Enjoys higher career satisfaction

According to an Envestnet survey, “Technology Integration Turbocharges Advisor Productivity: Making Time for Clients,” registered investment advisors (RIAs) that employ advanced technology integration enable advisors to:

  1. Serve 57 percent more clients
  2. Acquire more than 200 additional clients, increasing their practice by 291 percent
  3. Grow their book of business by 78 percent
  4. Achieve a 24 percent increase in their practices by adding more than $200 million in client assets
  5. Increase practice revenue by 46 percent
  6. Spend 19 percent more time on client prospecting and investment management

The advisor practice of the future will use technology for far more than opening accounts and moving money. Technology plays a strategic role in your ability to:

  1. Capture the next generation of clients
  2. Serve a multigenerational client base
  3. Serve more clients and manage greater assets
  4. Provide comprehensive, holistic planning
  5. Give clients on-demand access to current account values and their progress toward plan goals
  6. Meet a fiduciary standard of care through meticulous documentation of all client interactions, including investment recommendations and the rationale for those recommendations

Tech Tune-Ups for the Basics

The traditional client sit-down meeting offers many opportunities for streamlining the client experience. The flexibility of virtual meetings conducted through a web application that lets you share your screen, video chat or both appeals to clients of all ages, as the Vails found. With that success, the company added online scheduling, which Nick calls “a lifesaver.”

Industry regulations on communicating with clients typically lag behind modern social norms for technology use. Texting, for example, has become a preferred method for quickly communicating incidental information. The introduction of technology such as CellTrust's SL2 lets advisors and clients communicate via text while capturing and storing the information in compliance with FINRA guidance.

Creating a modern client experience requires optimizing your website, social media profiles, online account access, mobile check deposit and anything else clients can use without direct involvement from you or your staff. If these channels are outdated, inaccurate or otherwise difficult to use, potential clients may look elsewhere – without you ever knowing it.

Vail uses Recur Posts to manage social media, posting his own content on the channels and at the frequency he selects. He spends one hour a week reviewing articles and scheduling posts. He also writes a blog or creates a video every two weeks with a goal of having six weeks' worth of evergreen content ready at a time.

CRM: The Hub for Personalized Experiences

Today's consumers expect a personalized experience. According to a study by Walker, a customer experience consulting firm, by 2020, 88 percent of customers will expect a personalized experience – up from just 31 percent in 2017.

Personalizing the client experience depends entirely on managing information. Client relationship management (CRM) systems offer the depth and flexibility to tailor every client interaction while keeping your business efficient and scalable. CRM systems also help you create detailed workflow processes for every activity, including emails, phone calls, in-person meetings, tasks, follow-ups and introductions.

When selecting a CRM for your practice, consider:

  1. Does your broker-dealer need to approve the CRM?
  2. Does the CRM have a documented information security protocol?
  3. What degree of integration can you achieve?
  4. How many people need access?
  5. What level of customization do you need?
  6. How much staff time can be devoted to customization?
  7. Is there mobile capability?
  8. If you choose a new solution, can it import your existing client database?

Building the practice of the future requires seeking out and adopting new technology that goes beyond simply opening accounts and moving funds. Today's practices have access to technology that enables an Amazon- or Netflix-like personalized experience, creating long-term loyal clients eager to refer their friends and family.

With the growing demand for cutting-edge technology, cybersecurity will continue to be a vital vital concern in the financial services industry. To help you develop a cybersecurity plan for your practice, get your free copy of Cybersecurity: What You Need to Know and How to Talk to Clients. This informative guide provides valuable tips for identifying cyberthreats, protecting your practice, speaking with clients about cybersecurity and getting started developing a plan for your practice.

Securities offered through Securities America, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc.

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