Technology, for all its critics, has raised the bar in our everyday lives. We order Christmas presents on Amazon, we book an Uber at the end of the staff party and we watch Netflix on our Apple Macs. We want everything here and now, if not sooner. Including financial advice.
So, are Millennials who get sent into a tailspin over a slow internet connection just being fussy customers? Not really. If clients think your financial advisory service isn’t up to modern age standards, there are plenty of younger, tech-savvy companies that could jump in to plug the gap. But the danger is that while Millennials and Generation X clients gravitate towards the likes of robo advisers with low fees, they are missing out on genuine and thoughtful financial advice – which could make their money go even further than some automated model portfolio. It is imperative that financial advisory firms strike ahead to address the balance and embracing technology is a key way to do it.
Late to the game?
But for some reason, financial advice has been slower to catch up with the 21st century. This may be because a typical adviser’s client book mostly consists of the over 50s, and several reports show that those Baby Boomers’ children and grandchildren are choosing to park their cash elsewhere. For example, research from Investment News in the US estimates that two thirds of children choose to let go of their parents’ financial adviser after receiving their inheritance – and yet just 13% of advisers consider generational wealth transfer as a business risk.
Integrating technology into our businesses is not, however, just about giving advisers a shiny new toy to catch millennial customers. Tech allows advisers to work more efficiently – if you can avoid distracting YouTube videos – and safely, with back ups of documents, virus protection and having an easily accessible and searchable centralised behind-the-scenes system. Tech means better communication between clients and colleagues, and provides a more or less futureproof model for your business.
Putting theory into practice
What does good tech mean in practice for advisers? It could be several things. A slick website. Up to date and functioning social media. A client newsletter. It can also mean allowing clients to send emails, sign documents and review their portfolios online. If a client can get in touch with their adviser or review their financial circumstances from wherever they are, as long as they can get wifi, they are much more likely to stick around for the long term.
If advisers get it right, good tech should ensure a hassle-free environment on both sides. Having a centralised online system means those time-consuming and fiddly tasks, like cash flow modelling, fact-finding and re-keying data, or even chasing clients for a signature or payment, can be done automatically. It means if the key adviser is on holiday and the client calls the office, another colleague can access the client’s profile and try to help.
View tech in a positive light
Ultimately, making the most of technology and going online shouldn’t change or disrupt the core of what advisers do; it should enhance it. Tech should allow you to save time and raise your ability to compete in a dynamic market. It should make an adviser’s business more relevant, and appealing, to younger clients, as well as older ones. The true irony is that if you switch on in the right way, you are more likely to be able to switch off at the end of the day, knowing that you are helping to plan the financial futures of not only your current clients but also those of generations to come.