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How Financial Advisors Can Leverage New Technology to Exceed Today's Heightened Customer Expectations

I spend a lot of time talking to financial advisors and wholesalers about the challenges they face in their business. The message I hear is clear: traditional ways of working with clients are outdated, and advisors feel the need to continually evolve in order to meet their customers’ heightened expectations.

Specifically, advisors are looking for new technology solutions to help them work more efficiently, while being able to deliver the accelerated, highly personalized experiences clients get from companies outside the wealth management industry. The tools most advisors have been using to date just aren’t making the grade.

Heightened customer expectations

The key challenge facing advisors is that, overall, customers are frustrated by companies that still follow an old-school client relationship management model that is largely manual, often paper-based, and asks a lot of customers in terms of time and effort.

When a client can get a mortgage approved online in under 30 seconds—what does that do to their appetite for the meetings, calls, forms and time required to on-board with a financial advisor?

Traditional on-boarding, portfolio analysis and service processes no longer work for clients who want high value delivered increasingly quickly. The old processes are too slow. Too manual. And, the advisors I spoke with felt that the technology they have been using was contributing to that problem, rather than solving it. Tools aren’t integrated.

They don’t aggregate data to speed processes and improve customer experience. Most of all, they don’t do a good enough job of uncovering needs and performing portfolio analysis so that the advisor has the optimal recommendations for their clients.

Time and again, I heard advisors asking for better technology solutions. Advisors now have the same mindset as their clients—they understand what technology can deliver as a result of their daily interactions with non-wealth management companies, and feel they should have similar capabilities available to them.

They ask, why doesn’t the software I work with every day provide my customers with fast, easy, highly personalized experiences? Why isn’t it more effective at cutting on-boarding time, while improving the solutions I can offer?

What a next-gen technology solution looks like for advisors

Financial advisors are seeking a toolset that includes a comprehensive asset allocation and wealth analysis tool. They want aggregation of all client data so that they can streamline their processes—wasting less of their own and their customers’ time. Meanwhile, they’re looking for, and are right to expect, automated, optimized recommendations that do an even better job of meeting client needs.

Tools with these features would remove many compliance headaches and increase an advisor’s ability to meet suitability standards with less effort. As a central component of an advisor’s technology stack, this kind of solution would solve so many traditional problems:

Dramatically decrease client onboarding time and effort—for both advisors and clients

Software solutions that incorporate features like intelligent forms and auto completion, as well as electronic signatures, speed up the process of obtaining client information to understand and document their financial needs. They bring customer-facing wealth management processes in line with the experiences clients are having outside of our industry.

Enhance the digital discovery process, creating better outcomes

The right solution should have the ability to efficiently assess a client’s current situation and future financial needs. Both advisors and clients want a process where client financial information, goals and risk profiles can be efficiently identified. It shouldn’t take several face-to-face meetings to complete this process.

Optimize automated portfolio analysis and product recommendations

Platforms that deliver world-class customer experience include data-driven, fully-automated financial and insurance planning tools, accessing all client data, plus all available fact sheets on all funds—aggregated and accessible in real-time.

They are able to easily generate fund comparisons and create clear, benefit-driven presentations. These recommendations, based on analytics, demonstrate why each product is the best fit for the portfolio.

For advisors, this means one-stop access to all the information they need in plain-English, but data-driven, talking points that support their recommendations.

Provide the superior, highly personalized service that clients have come to expect

Advisor-specific portfolio design solutions should automate many of the time-consuming data capture and servicing tasks, that have traditionally taken up so much of an advisor’s time.

The right tools would give advisors a window into the performance of their clients’ investments against their goals, and enable a clear, quick understanding of portfolio activity. More transparency will accelerate workflows and provide more data, that will ultimately lead to better decision-making and superior outcomes for their clients.

Putting it all together

The advisors I have been speaking with recently, are voicing a set of concerns that resonate throughout the industry. Both advisors and their clients have new, and continually evolving expectations about what technology should be able to do for them—and the traditional solutions are no longer working.

The new generation of wealth management tools for advisors promises to take their practices to new levels of efficiency and enable them to do an even better job of meeting client needs. Leveraging these technologies is the best way to redefine the advisor role and succeed in a continually disrupted environment.

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