By ALEX CHOI
As people’s lives continue to be busier and more complicated, they demand their information and services to be accessible wherever they happen to be, at any time of day or night. A profusion of technologies has sprung up to help make this possible. At the same time, all these technologies may lead to assumptions that humans aren’t necessary in order to have strong company/customer relationships.
But the opposite may actually be true: with the advent of increasingly sophisticated tools that help people conduct the business of life, people also want human guidance. When it comes to investment technology, smart, easy-to-use tools should be a high priority. But clients don’t want to go it alone — they want support and guidance from experts. For advisors who want to leverage the capabilities of technology, this presents an opportunity: to position tools as beneficial to clients while promoting their role alongside it.
Here are some tips for introducing a combined “tech and expertise” package to clients, and for helping manage their expectations for what today’s tools can – and can’t – do for them.
Don’t Underestimate Clients’ Desire For Digital Tools
A few years ago, digital tools were so uncommon that a firm could stand out from the crowd simply by using them. Today, digital tools are must-haves for doing business with all age groups, particularly millennials.
According to an Ernst & Young report, “More and more, clients want online tools and mobile functionality as well as a seamless customer experience that is fast, convenient, and intuitive.” In other words, without technology, you may be at a distinct disadvantage as potential clients evaluate you alongside other firms. Even a half-hearted approach to adopting the right technologies can have its liabilities, namely burdening your firm with avoidable costs and heightening your exposure to risk.
Position Technology As Added Value To Clients
Automated investment technologies can take on many of a firm’s repetitive, low-value tasks performed behind the scenes, such as rebalancing and tax harvesting. This allows you to focus on revenue-generating work that can have greater value to clients. Position your use of technology as a way to free up more of your time to help improve your clients’ portfolios.
This can give investors added confidence in your recommendations — and they may also be happier about paying fees when they know that the work you’re doing is focused on outcomes, not on “busy work.”
Determine The Level Of Control You Provide
After they are introduced to investment management technology, clients can expect to have more control over their accounts. Advisors shouldn’t fear giving clients some amount of control, especially those they believe are highly capable of understanding and leveraging information. But it’s important to first determine which clients may do best with this added level of control, then identify how much of it they should have. As you evaluate different technology options, look for ones that offer the flexibility you need.
Don’t Assume Older Clients Will Take A Pass
Because high-net-worth individuals tend to be baby boomers, you may think they’ll be averse to adopting technology. But actually, members of this group often possess a high level of digital literacy and appear to be ready to adopt more of it.
A study by Pew Research Center labels this generation as tech adopters and learners who are accustomed to technological life enhancement. Because they’re also the wealthiest generation in American history, they (and their children, who will inherit their wealth) should be a focus as you roll out new technologies.
Firms that leverage and promote a combined “tech and expertise” offering can align themselves precisely with what baby boomers and millennials say they want today — a level of service that’s both personalized and “modern.” By supporting your skills and insights with smart, intuitive digital tools, you can improve the client experience and help set the stage for more productive conversations in the future.
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