From how people find advisors, to how they interact with them, to how they exchange information and content and draft financial plans, the relationship between clients and advisors is evolving rapidly, all thanks to technology. Videoconferencing sites such as Zoom and GoTo Meeting are changing how advisors meets with clients. There’s even an online matchmaking engine that hooks up investors with registered investment advisors. If you can find your husband or wife online, how about your financial advisor?
That’s one of the reasons Northern River Financial is a virtual brokerage without the expensive real estate. We are equipped with all the current software needed to facilitate a modern client experience. We saw this new age of our industry four years back when we launched our new brand. Technology needs to be embraced. All the companies and partners we deal with are there or are quickly heading that way. Here were some of the considerations.
Client relationship management
A good client portal used to be a strong value proposition. Now, it’s a basic requirement. It’s hard to overstate the impact of technology on the financial advice industry. For advisors, the software for customer relationship management (CRM), managing portfolios and dealing with the back office, has enabled them to serve far more clients and by extension spend much more time with them.
And how is technology changing the client experience with advisors? In a word, profoundly. From how clients find advisors, to how they interact with them, to how they exchange information and content and draft financial plans, the relationship between clients and advisors is evolving rapidly.
24 hour access
Ten years ago, semi-annual reports from advisors were still a vital source of information for investors. Today they’re a quaint reminder of how things used to be. People now have the ability, if not always the desire, to monitor their investments in real-time. They demand clear pictures of their portfolios and updated financial plans on a daily basis.
Younger people want everything aggregated at their fingertips and they want it quickly. They want a moving balance sheet and a cashflow analysis updated every night. Baby boomers and retirees increasingly want the same the same thing, and they want it on their phones, too. Easy-to-use client portals have become essential to provide clients with the ability to see their accounts, exchange secure emails with their advisor and share documents.
Large firms may build their own portal, while websites such as Mint.com and financial planning software like RazorPlan are being widely used by advisors for that purpose. A good client portal used to be a strong value proposition. Now, it’s a basic requirement.
For many retirees, a face-to-face meeting with their financial advisor is a good opportunity to get out of the house. But for growing numbers of people, a videoconference call via the web does the trick.
Our client relationships usually start with a face-to-face meeting, but it’s amazing how fast most clients want to go digital now. Whether they live in cities or rural areas, more people want to check-in with virtual meetings. Advisors no longer have to worry about setting up cameras and coordinating participants. Remote-conferencing websites such as Zoom and GoTo Meeting handle it simply and inexpensively.
Technology and touches
Technology provides more opportunity for touches between advisors and clients. Granted, many of those touches may be machine-hatched messages from customer relationship management software wishing you a happy birthday or reminding you about an upcoming event.
The greatest challenge on the horizon for the sector is the growth of automated, formula-driven, less personal advice. On the horizon, video email websites will enable advisors to deliver those birthday wishes in a personalized video. Constant touches are important. As the landscape becomes more competitive, advisors need to go with the technologies that enable them to reach people and connect.
A growing number of advisors are using voice and video technologies to interact with their clients and deliver content on a more regular basis. Flash briefings, personalized videos, podcasts and even YouTube channels are now more common tools for advisors to connect with clients. Good content can drive customers to make decisions. It’s a non-abrasive way to connect with existing and potential clients.
If you can stay in the ear of your client, it’s a good way to build relationships and to remind them that you’re working for them. Podcasts talking about financial planning issues or investing ideas can also be a useful tool for reaching potential new clients. If I tell a friend to listen to an advisor’s podcast, it’s kind of like a soft referral.
We have blog posts, podcasts and and videos accessible on our Northern River Financial website. The content has raised our firm’s profile and driven growth. Good content can drive customers to make decisions. It’s a non-abrasive way to connect with existing and potential clients.
The one caveat to technology? The potential for cybercrime. We protect our client data from hackers, but also by educating clients about the potential phishing scams and the like that seem to get more and more sophisticated every year.
Unfortunately that is a side effect in the state of the rise of technology. All our client data and personal information is encrypted and stored in Canadian data centres accessed by cloud based servers. It is also backed up on external encrypted hard drives maintained in private locked locations. We also maintain our own domains with state of the art protection hardware and software. It is a critical part of our philosophy. For us, this is Keeping Life Current.