Part 2: Leveraging Technology
We left off the first part of this series (Part 1, Setting Intentions) with Jim Henson’s quote, “Machines should work, and people should think.” This quote requires more meaning in these incredibly challenging and uncertain economic times marked by downsizing and position eliminations that are happening across the industry. The uncertainty is an emotionally challenging experience for the individuals who face layoffs and their families and it is also emotionally challenging for those not directly impacted but who have been impacted indirectly as a result of their colleague’s downsizing.
There’s another important question that springs up: How will organizations that are experiencing these challenges address the additional work that still needs to get done with fewer people? The only way to address this problem is by leveraging technology, specifically intelligent automation.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Now, as an advisor, you understand what your clients’ expectations are. But does your technology provide the ability to meet and, more importantly, exceed those expectations? Does it perform all the work, and allow people in your organization to sit back and think? In most instances, the tech stack is often dated and needs to be fully integrated. So even when advisors feel strongly that they have acquired or are leveraging best-of-breed solutions, it may be far from the reality.
“The disparate technologies must integrate. And this integration goes well beyond basic connectivity and well beyond two-way single sign-on. To meet the demands of the new-age clients, organizations need to step back and do a true assessment of their tech stack,” says Michael Partnow, Group President, Wealth Management at JIFFY.ai, an autonomous enterprise platform for the Wealth Management industry.
Advisors who use free versions or custodial software—should they be concerned?
What got you here will not get you there!
Even if you have mastered Excel and are using it as a robust CRM tool, or are creating and developing fancy PowerPoint slides for your performance reporting presentations, it is still not going to impress the new-age client.
Neither will Excel be able to work like a complete billing solution, nor will free solutions get you to the next level of providing the type of experience your clients expect today.
Free comes free for a reason out there in the wealth management industry. Using free versions often end up as a time-trap, taking advisors away from what they should be doing, which is building relationships by spending time with their clients, adds Partnow.
Continuing to use what is considered a ‘penny-wise-pound-foolish’ approach using free tech implies that you are not really leveraging the overall efficiency you could achieve by spending on a robust solution. The additional expenditure toward technology enables advisors to reap the long-term benefits, as they bring in more AUM and manage relationships; not just add on to the inefficient tech debt.
Enhancing The Client Experience
Today’s new-age clients have come to expect an Amazon-like experience with speed, efficiency, and interoperability—especially the overarching experience they have with their advisor. Keeping this in mind, advisors should leverage AI, machine learning, and business intelligence to make thoughtful recommendations; not just deliver the ‘same old’ again.
For example, opening an account. The experience must be beyond speed, efficiency, entering information once, and plain speaking. The UI or aesthetics need to be there for a client to say, ‘it’s been a good experience.’
“With the significant volume of transfer of wealth already occurring, the inheriting generations are demanding greater transparency into their financial wellness. With that, the technology stack must focus on the client experience first and foremost. Factors like speed and efficiency become table stakes at that point. These inhering investors not only want things done incredibly quickly and efficiently, but they also demand that the experience is exceptional,” says Partnow.
Clients can find most of the information they need through technology access. That’s different from what they necessarily want from their advisor. They want their advisors to have robust technology, but they come to advisors for other reasons. The role of the advisor has, in many ways, become the therapist they consult with, and a trusted source well beyond the financial aspects of the relationship, etc.
There’s so much information readily available at the investor’s fingertips, but they rely on their advisor to put all the pieces together and create a custom experience. As another example, consumers can go to multiple websites and make their purchases or go to Amazon that has put all vendors together in one place and created the experience many consumers have come to demand—and even expect.
Thanks to technology, every time a client makes a request, delivering on that has become much more efficient than it used to be. So, what tech tools should advisors upgrade based on the technologies that have emerged over the last year or so?
“The experience you’re delivering to your clients is the most important factor, but unfortunately, it is often overlooked. The other piece is around data and analytics that illustrate to the client how they got there. The data and predictive elements leading to the recommendations you make prove to the client that you’re not just making an educated guess but came to that recommendation using technology. With so much information available at clients’ fingertips, they really ask their advisors to show and explain how they have thoughtfully put it all together,” says Partnow.
The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Element
Think about the amount of power in one’s phone or asking Siri to find an answer quickly and accurately. As an industry, we have not taken that same experience that our clients have come to deserve and centered our technology with that in mind. The days of sending a performance report via email quarterly are over. Client expectations are so much more, and AI allows for that—for instance, an integrated experience, again, taking in the data, assessing the data, making appropriate recommendations, and doing it in a speedy efficient manner. We must create an experience that today’s consumers have via their phones, and they also have when using their Wealth tech UX.
Advisors must remember that their clients now can view how a particular security performed; they don’t need to check the newspaper the next day like investors did some time ago. Now the information is readily available at their fingertips in real-time. It’s prevalent for clients to have their portfolio’s performance scrolling all day, including the market updates throughout the day.
And when clients have a question, they want it answered in a real-time, incredibly thoughtful manner. They want to understand what’s going on with their portfolio and will have that next conversation with their advisor before three months. Today’s investor is incredibly savvy and has a deeper knowledge of investments and the markets than previous generations around the operating model of financial services.
What they want to see is information they can easily access and understand, says Partnow.
“To unlock the power of the technology to their benefit, advisors must consider integration. How well will the technology fully integrate with other technologies in the tech stack? For example, you could have a best-of-breed CRM and billing system, a best-of-breed custodial platform, and a best-of-breed performance report. But if they don’t all speak to each other and integrate, is it best of breed? So, I would suggest that advisors understand how the different elements of their tech stack fully integrate before purchasing and committing to a new technology provider,” Partnow adds.
Beyond connectivity and beyond the basic single sign-on, consider entering information once and having it fully transposed to another system. How does that feed into your data and analytics? What is the experience? Is it in line with what your clients have also come to expect? So, you may love technology, but your clients may expect something different. As their advisor, you must understand what they want, what is paramount to them in terms of their experience and the delivery of information, and how you can exceed their expectations using technology.