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Imagine What Technology Can Do for Your Practice

July 27, 2017

It’s no secret financial advisors need to embrace technology to compete and become future-ready. A 2016 Fidelity study on investor insights found clients are more likely to refer others to advisors who efficiently use technology to improve collaboration and otherwise enhance their services. Our 2016 eAdvisor Study found “better leveraging technology” is the number one topic firm owners want to learn more about to help grow their businesses.

This interest in technology isn’t surprising – clients are accustomed to using tech in every facet of their lives, from communicating via video chat to watching their favorite shows on the go. Why wouldn’t they expect the same level of innovation and accessibility when it comes to financial management?

That said, it’s also no secret it’s a challenge to adopt new technologies – particularly when advisors are just getting started. With so many options and varying client needs out there, where should a firm even begin? One possible solution for FAs considering getting the tech ball rolling is to adopt a technique elite athletes often use in their quest for success: visualization. Start by envisioning the end result you want to achieve and work back from there.

The big question shouldn’t be “Which technology package should I buy?” Rather, advisors should ask themselves: “What is my end game? What does this experience ultimately look like for my team and my clients?” After answering those questions, you can begin to map out how to get there.

An important part of this visualization is imagining your clients’ futures and your role in them. In the Fidelity 2016 eAdvisor Study, we found that eAdvisors – advisors who have already embraced technology – are doing this with great results. It helps them provide investors with a richer experience as they work toward long-term goals – not to mention that, compared to their less tech-savvy peers, it helps advisors achieve higher AUM, compensation and satisfaction with their careers.

Since your clients of all demographics are already immersed in technology – from shopping and banking online to using a wearable to track their workouts – use this to your advantage. Envision how you can tie your offerings into technology that’s already part of your clients’ lives – from the first point of engagement throughout your ongoing service.

During this process, be sure to focus on your core competitive advantages (such as "What are customers willing to pay a premium for?") and how technology can complement those. This will help you strategically allocate budget to tech that makes sense for both your firm and your clients.

There are a number of best practices you can use for mapping technology to your clients’ journey with you. Start by maximizing your online impact. A powerful online presence – including both your firm’s site and social media channels – helps with both the sales process and ongoing client engagement. In fact, according to the 2016 Fidelity Investor Insights Study, 80% of high-earning millennials have a significantly more positive impression of financial advisors who have a good website. Use your online channels to provide distinct, customized content to attract the right kinds of visitors. Measure impact by tracking interactions on Google Analytics and via CRM. Provide online access to accounts, portals, financial education and investing tools – which are especially important to younger clients. Clients want to be able to access their money and make transactions on their own, whenever and wherever is most convenient for them.

Try to minimize paper. We know investors want to use paperless technology because it’s accessible and saves time. Around two-thirds of eAdvisors let clients sign financial documents via electronic signature. This simple change to the onboarding experience minimizes client effort and creates a positive first impression that you can continue throughout your relationship.

Make meetings more impactful. Host interactive meetings by taking advantage of technology that creates a collaborative investor experience and makes your content stand out. Have tech solutions in your arsenal that let you quickly answer questions like “What would my finances look like if I decide to retire five years earlier?” on the spot versus needing to follow up. Running scenarios in real time results in more productive meetings and helps you develop stronger client relationships by engaging in meaningful conversation.

Map the whole picture. Take advantage of data aggregation tools to show a client the whole picture of their portfolio. This is important for successful goal-based planning, as well as providing ongoing advice as clients go through life changes and events.

Finally, maintain balance. Clients don’t just want high-tech – they want high-touch as well. Supplement the human elements by visualizing the client journey and adding digital touch-points that enhance the client experience throughout.

The options with technology are boundless – it’s both a blessing and a curse. By taking the time to map technology to your client experience, you can make smart decisions that lead to more interactive and engaging relationships with your clients and more productive use of your time. All it takes is some imagination.