Here I look at 7 ways digitalisation and technology can enhance the financial advice journey.
1 – Digitalise your marketing
By combining technology’s practical uses with modern marketing techniques, finding and attracting new clients is now more easily done than in previous years. Social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn provide you with a huge pool of potential targets right at your fingertips - 70% of high net worth individuals use it*. Make sure you have a prominent and professional presence on social media and start engaging, at the very least it will give clients and prospects another way of contacting you. And don’t forget about the online adviser directories like Pension Wise, the PFS directory and sites like www.unbiased.co.uk – all will help boost your digital presence.
And once you’ve found your clients? The latest CRM systems, like XPLAN, provide full digital campaign management solutions that make marketing and client communications a breeze.
2 – Think multi-channel
Your clients have big expectations. They are used to the simple, trusted and user-friendly experiences offered by large retailers like Argos or John Lewis (who offer online and in-store purchasing) and they expect their financial services providers to do the same. The pressure is on but getting it right will put you head and shoulders above the competition.
A recent report by IRESS found that wealthier consumers in particular are more likely to want to conduct financial activity online. Millennials on the other hand, might be used to doing everything digitally but while they want real-time information, they also want one-to-one contact with an actual person. So we’re not talking robo-advice here but neither is it enough to pop a quarterly report in the post. A multi-channel approach is what’s needed and new adviser technologies make it possible for your clients to engage with their finances (and with you) in the manner they choose. The latest practice management systems enable you to deliver a multi-channel service that is not only fast and efficient but available on-demand and in real-time from any device.
3 – Automate for efficiency
Integrations in adviser technology have smoothed the information gathering process and automated possible recommendations, meaning you can conserve your time and energies for the ‘important bit’ – managing the client relationship. With the right software system you can easily do a fact find online with the client data fed seamlessly into your database so there’s no rekeying information when it comes to quotes and reporting. Mobile devices and tablets make the process even easier if you need to do this on-the-go with your client.
But it is still important to remember the human dimension, particularly for complex financial planning. It’s this bit you've got to be careful you don't skip out without careful consideration because, while you can get a result from a computer, a lot of value comes from actually eyeballing the client and seeing how they react to a result, particularly when risk profiling.
4 – Give clients a single view
Modern adviser technology enables wonders such as giving your clients a useful single view of their finances – something we found nearly a quarter of people want - and providing a useful starting point for your conversations with them. The reporting and analysis tools available in some practice management systems will enable you to produce impressive graphs, charts and reports all at the touch of a button and in real time in front of your clients. Whether shown on screen or printed out, providing clear visuals are a sure fire way to helping your client better understand their financial situation.
5 – Make it visual
Adviser technology has come a long way in how recommendations and alternatives can be presented, enabling advisers to evolve into financial ‘coaches’ rather than just consultants. Automated and interactive reports such as suitability reports and multi-delivery channels including portals and tablets now make it so much easier to present your findings, not to mention being more engaging for your clients. The quality of graphics and digital reports generated by adviser software are now so much more advanced and more visually impressive – you can’t help but look good!
6 - Implement efficiently
By using advanced online portals you can research, quote and apply from one point and offer your clients the best product and provider coverage.
These tools also provide a wide range of online sales support services to add value to your client offering and make doing business even easier. Choose a system that can integrate with your existing back-office system, streamlining transactions will save your business time and money. All this drives down the cost of the sales and advice process while enabling you to demonstrate due diligence and provide the very best client service.
7 – Empower your clients
Now using the latest adviser software you and your clients can keep track of their portfolios as often as you or they require. Through online portals that link to your back office system clients can log in securely and view a summary of their investments and review where they are. By empowering your clients in this way your workload is reduced and your digital consumer satisfied. You can still stay in control by choosing a technology solution that is configurable and flexible so that you choose what your clients can or can’t see and do.
Technology has opened the door to service clients in any way, any place any time. The adviser technology exists, it is now up to the industry to embrace it.
*Social Media London, March 2015
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