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How technology can help manage great expectations

Posted: 8 September 2015

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Technology doesn’t eliminate the need for the adviser or accountant. However, it will radically change the advice process and ultimately make life easier for everyone.

Clients expect more than ever from their professional advisers and they want to pay less.

They want their adviser to guide and educate them, recalibrate their entrenched financial behaviour, develop a strategy that will ensure they achieve their short, medium and long term objectives, manage their investments, assess their risks and protect them, keep them on track, grow their wealth and basically, improve their lives.

They want all that for a razor sharp fee.

At the same time, advisers are under pressure to find new clients as a large portion of their clientbase retires, stops contributing to super and starts drawing an income from their savings. This demographic shift has major consequences for the majority of advisers who charge an asset-based fee for service.

For advisers that seek to grow their business from Gen Y and Millennials, they find a client base that expects technology to be at the forefront of their advice experience, as well as the ability to consume advice as and when they see the need for it in their busy lives. They also still expect the advice to be unique to their circumstances.

In order for advisers to successfully meet growing client demands and continue expanding their business, they need to embrace the use of technology and consider mass customisation techniques. In fact, technology can allow advisers to deliver cost effective personalised services to segments of the market that were previously inaccessible.

To date the advice process hasn’t evolved much despite enormous advancements in cloud-based software, video and mobile technology, digital data capture and algorithmic and predicative analytics. Advice is still predominately face-to-face and needs to change as advisers and clients get busier, they move for work or personal reasons or they travel more regularly.

Physical meetings are still important when it comes to building trust in their adviser. People still rely heavily on non-verbal communication (observing body language), adding likability, appearance, even the adviser’s status, then sub-consciously mentally banking this assessment for future dealings.

Once a relationship has started and trust is established, it’s pretty sticky.

Regular face-to-face interaction isn’t vital anymore. It can even become a burden if discussions can occur via phone or video. With VideoSign collaborative video-telephony technology, meetings can be recorded for compliance purposes, documents can be shared, forms can be completed and electronic signatures gained on the spot.

Advisers can implement recommendations immediately rather than wait for a client to receive, sign and return a form, by which time deadlines or an investment opportunity may have been missed.

Simplicity, efficiency and convenience are top priorities for consumers. This is evident in many other sectors where start-ups like Uber and Airbnb have totally disrupted incumbents by delivering a cheaper, more convenient solution.

Mass customisation doesn’t have to be daunting or complicated. It could start with a tailored electronic newsletter that’s emailed to the entire client base, or a webinar where clients can simply dial in to hear a relevant investment update.

At the other extreme, it could be automated algorithm-based robo advice that recommends investment portfolios to consumers based on their risk profile or cognitive computing from organisations like Findability Solutions which aggregate data from an individuals digital footprint to project a persona.

Professional services deal with something much more critical than taxi services or accommodation. Financial advisers are managing people’s wealth and financial future. The consequences of getting the financial advice process wrong is far greater than being late for a party because the Uber didn’t turn up.

Fortunately, technology doesn’t eliminate the need for the adviser or accountant. It exists to support the advice process and make life easier.

If technology is too hard to use, unreliable or frustrating, it will fail, no matter how much potential it has to save time and money. For the financial advice industry, that barrier has already been broken and easy to use technology is available now to transform business processes.

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