Advisor Technology and the Changing Nature of the “Client Experience”
With asset management services now virtually free, the value proposition for advisors is shifting, as are client expectations for these relationships. In this new environment, advisors need to focus on the total client “experience” to deliver value and build business. The emerging generation of advisor-focused technologies is making that possible.
These technologies fall into three broad areas: predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, sales enablement and platform-agnostic client communications, and portfolio construction and optimization. They can be used to improve both the client experience and advisor prospecting in multiple ways. For example, predictive analytics uses data mining and modelling techniques to anticipate future events based on historical patterns. The technology can recognize behaviors and allow advisors to predict client needs, thereby making better informed investment and planning recommendations. “Look alike matching” provides the ability to identify similar prospects and adopt a higher level of personalization in marketing to them.
Dynamic content generation and mobile access with high levels of customization are another set of technologies that are increasingly viewed as the price of entry for advisors, and an important consideration for doing business with the younger generation of investors who are “always on.”
Sales enablement, which can include applying process and technology to produce content analytics in near real-time and measure content engagement, provides a way to deliver this end-to-end. With sales enablement technology, content can be assembled in a central repository. Rules defining who can access content and which content can be customized provide the necessary compliance controls. So, when new versions are introduced, they’re updated automatically and verified for compliance. Advisors can draw on this repository to create customized presentations which can be delivered across multiple platforms and in multiple formats in real time.
Analytics on content sent via the platform allow advisors to see what’s being read and what isn’t, to refine levels of customization in future interactions and to remove materials that aren’t being used or aren’t resonating with customers. This in turn allows the advisor to make continuous improvements to the communications process, always drawing on approved, compliant material.
Finally, automated portfolio construction and optimization tools have streamlined the asset management process, while again allowing for higher levels of customization. Younger clients, migrating away from do-it-yourself services like Betterment, are generally comfortable with and accepting of this approach, and the algorithms used to build these continue to improve.
Personalization requires both technology & a personal touch
As in many other businesses, Amazon, Netflix, and others have completely changed expectations for the delivery of products and services, including financial advice. While this is generally recognized – in a survey of business decision makers, Gatepoint found that 67% said that personalizing content is the key to improving the impact on sales – the industry has been moving too slowly to roll out the platforms that make it possible. According to the Digital Banking Report, just 6 percent of financial institutions are currently deploying advanced personalization technology. The pace of adoption needs to accelerate just to catch-up to current client expectations to say nothing of exceeding them.
That’s not to overlook the human dimension, however. As they come online, these technologies will essentially drive a philosophical shift in how advisors conduct their business. Less time spent generating reports, allocation and investment recommendations means more time to spend with clients. Always on technology will allow advisors to contact clients when and how they want to be contacted.
How wealth managers see the advisor’s role is changing, too. With asset management services no longer a major driver of value, a key element now is to help clients stay on plan. More than anything, that requires both time and a personal touch. These technologies address both these requirements – freeing up time to communicate and providing the tools to make those communications more personal and meaningful, delivering the kind of “experience” clients now expect.
William (Bill) Finnegan is managing director, financial services marketing, with Seismic, the global leader in sales and marketing enablement. Prior to joining Seismic in 2019, Bill was chief marketing officer with AMG Funds.