Digital disruption - how technology can help your business

Technology is a major part of life for your clients. The internet has revolutionised traditional industries such as real estate, travel agents and even selling your car. But what about financial advice? With technology reducing the barriers to getting advice on demand, our industry is facing a level of digital disruption. To what extent are potential clients looking online for advice already and are you ready to attract them?


What is the competition online?

In Australia, the entrance of the online financial advice company, or 'robo-adviser', Stockpot is heralding a predicted boom in financial advice tech start-ups. Overseas, direct-to-market models have been around for a while, but interestingly take-up has stayed at around 10 per cent.1 

So why are financial advice websites and apps slower at attracting clients' money, in contrast to the online success of other industries? The big difference is clients are making decisions that affect their lives and their livelihoods, as the perceived risk of getting it wrong is much greater. These consequences require a much greater level of trust and accountability.

Financial advisers, through empathy and understanding, build this trust. They have the ability to recognise emotional investing and have the judgement that comes from experience. Computers won't respond to investor nerves during a market downturn, plan for contingencies or even simply be free for a chat.

There will always be a place for financial advisers, but history is littered with companies that have failed to acknowledge or embrace change. So what can you learn from new technologies and what can you do to prepare for the digital future?

Social media

One of the obvious way of increasing your digital touch point is social media. According to an Accenture survey of 2,500 financial advisers in the US, 40% have found new clients through Facebook, 25% through LinkedIn and 21% through Twitter2. Other results from the survey indicated 60% found social media increased their touch points with referral sources, keeping up-to-date on industry news and getting answers to clients quickly. 

According to an Accenture survey of 2,500 financial advisers in the US, 40% have found new clients through Facebook, 25% through LinkedIn and 21% through Twitter.

74% said, overall, social media increased their assets under management.        

The results may be skewed as the survey was online, indicating a willingness to embrace technology by respondents, but the results are compelling. Though remember, social media is a long term strategy and you need to be willing to dedicate time and resources to it. 

Websites and blogs

For many clients, their first exposure to your company will be through your website. Is your website a good reflection of your company? Investing in a good website, including laying the groundwork for enhanced client functionality such as logging in to view their portfolio in real time, is key to how you are perceived by prospective clients. Take the time to figure out what your clients want from you online. Ask new clients what they think of your website and take that feedback on so you can make some changes. 

Ensure your website is optimised for search engines, this will help your potential clients find you. Blogs are a fantastic way to help with search engine optimisation (how easy you are to find on the internet) as you can write for different keywords. 

Online chats and videos

Face-to-face communication helps to build trust and rapport. Skype or Facetime are great, free ways to have video chats with clients across the city, country or even the world. An extension of this might be using videos, such as creating a video to explain an investment topic on a 2 minute you embedded on your website. Free video hosting sites such as YouTube and Vimeo make it easy to put videos up on your website. 

Client portals

Whether you are using an out of the box service such as Xplan or Coin or leveraging off a platform's online service, you need to ensure your client can access their investment information easily, including visuals, such as pie charts for their investment mix and line graphs for rate of return to see how their investments are doing. If you need to create user guides or how-to videos then the site is not intuitive and will turn many people off, especially the older less tech savvy clients. 

Conclusion

The client experience is about choice, and while not all clients will embrace all digital offerings, the more you are able to provide, the greater the opportunity to connect with your clients the way they want.

And as the world moves forward, there has never been a better opportunity to make it easy for clients to find you and the information they need.

1. http://www.moneymanagement.com.au/analysis/financial-planning/2013/technology-threat-opportunity-financial-advisers
2. http://www.accenture.com/sitecollectiondocuments/pdf/accenture-cm-awams-pov-gen-d-advisor-summary-final-mar2013-web.pdf


What tips do you have to get the most out of your technology for your practice?

Important
The information contained in this newsletter is provided on behalf of the IOOF group of companies and is intended for financial adviser use only. It is given in good faith and has been prepared based on information that is believed to be accurate and reliable at the time of publication. Any examples are for illustration purposes only and are based on the continuance of present laws and our interpretation of them at the time.