With Apple releasing its newest version of the iPad recently, I can’t help but think about how much I’ve seen change in the technology that we use to deliver our services and run our business since I first started Financial Finesse back in 1999.
It’s not that I’m a techie. I’m just a huge fan of anything that makes my life easier. Moreover, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in 13 years of running a business, it’s that other people feel the same way, too. If we hadn’t kept up on technology and how it has changed people’s preferred methods of gathering information and learning, I’m not sure we’d still be here today.
This perspective over the years is what has helped our business grow—it’s allowed us to build out our technology infrastructure to create more user-friendly systems for our clients and operate more smoothly, create and improve our ability to collect and analyze important data from our services that help our clients build their financial education programs, build entirely new services like an interactive online learning platform for employees, and so much more.
Keeping ahead of technology trends is just as important for advisors. Often, you’re running your own schedules, managing your own clients and strategically growing your client base. Because of this, I believe that the new iPad is part of a trend that every business owner and advisor should be keeping a close eye on in order to continue to grow their business: it is estimated that by 2014, there will be 89.5 million tablet users in the U.S. That is over 35% of the entire Internet-using population. For 2012, the number of people using tablets is expected to reach over 50 million—a huge jump from 13 million in 2010 when they were first introduced. The momentum the tablet is gaining in becoming part of the U.S. household’s “norm” means the tablet is more than a hot trend; it’s part of a larger shift towards technology that is faster and more mobile.
Why does this matter to financial pros? Because this shift means a couple of things:
- Consumers like your clients are and will continue to grow more demanding for instant access to information as we continue to get this through technology advancements and
- Consumers like your clients are expecting everything else in their world to be just as simple, easy to use and immediate.
In other words, this might be the way of the future and advisors who aren’t on board could be left behind.
In my opinion, it’s not a bad thing. Tablets can help advisors be more efficient, build trust with clients (if you haven’t yet, this is a good read from AdvisorOne and Investment Advisor editor John Sullivan) and show clients you’re all about making their lives easier.
Here are three ways a tablet can help an advisor:
No. 1: They make organizing your business easier
This is probably the most obvious way tablets help improve advisors’ relationship with their clients, mainly because clients want working with you to be as simple as possible and tablets can help you organize your world so that you don’t get hung up on the details like converting documents and making your clients fax you things that could otherwise be electronically signed and so on. There are hosts of ways to do this with downloadable apps or programs already installed on most tablets, but a few that are specifically helpful for advisors are:
- Personal assistant apps that can help you manage your calendar, help you find places to meet with clients and much more simply by speaking into it. We’ve all see the iPhone commercials where people are asking Siri, the iPhone 4s’s most prized asset, questions like “What’s the weather?” and telling her to “Remind me to do this again.” Siri and other apps can provide you with easy ways to manage your business even while driving to a client appointment. This frees up time for you and your assistant for more important matters.
- Dragon Dictation, an advisor favorite, which can turn your speech to text so you can quickly and accurately take notes from client meetings so you can focus on the client while making sure that important details aren’t forgotten. You can also use it to create case studies and testimonials.
- SugarSync, which allows you to get your documents off your tablet and quickly and easily transfer them to clients or anywhere you need them.
- Presentation builders with apps like Keynote, the tablet’s equivalent of PowerPoint, that can create presentations directly and entirely from your tablet.
- Tracked changes apps such as Good Reader which allows advisors to hand write in any notes on any document or even PDFs. You can easily share your notes with your clients on any application forms or PDFs instantly. That means less paper to have to file and keep track of.
No. 2: They make working with you easier for the client
Multiple studies have shown people use mobile internet devices more to manage their finances than desktop users. According to Ruder Finn's Mobile Intent Index, 46% of mobile phone users use their devices for online banking, and 40% use it to check the status of bills and/or credit cards. With more and more people using mobile devices to manage their personal finances, advisors should be at the forefront of the shift. Some ways to do this are:
- Accepting payments anywhere, anytime with Square, an app that installs a credit card reader to your tablet through your headphone port. There’s a fee of 2.75% per ‘swipe’ transaction but it may be worth it if it makes it easier for your clients to pay any flat fees you may charge.
- Making it possible for clients to sign documents electronically and upload them to your CRM or cloud system. Once again, this means less paperwork.
- Becoming the “one stop shop”. This is a growing trend among financial pros in particular because they naturally want their clients to see them as their go-to resource for any financial investment need. Advisors can do this by seeing if their broker dealer or custodian has an app that allows clients to check on their investments anywhere at any time, making it convenient for clients and at the same time, giving them a reassured sense of trust in you.
No. 3: They make it easier to stay on top of news
The Ruder Finn Mobile Intent Index also found that 33% of people use their mobile phones to keep up on business blogs. If your clients are checking market trends and absorbing news from their tablets, it probably means they are likely checking them more often than those who do it from a desktop. As a result, you need to be aware of what could be influencing your clients’ decisions in working with you. Some popular apps to be aware of are:
- Stock TickerPicker is a good app for both advisors and their clients because it allows you to quickly find stocks that you or your clients want to purchase or get information about.
- Stock Guru helps your clients make purchasing and selling decisions about their stocks. It’s a good idea for advisors to be aware of the analysis and guidance this app provides people in case it’s influencing your clients’ opinions of stocks you’re advising on.
- iTunes is perhaps the most common app being used by tablet users to download podcasts and video on financial news. If you have a source you like, you can share it with clients who take a particular interest in following market trends, or even make and distribute your own podcasts (just be sure to clear it with your compliance officer first).
Whether or not you’re shaking your fist at Apple and tech companies who drop a new product on us every couple of years, you may need to make the shift to keep your clients happy and position yourself as being up with the times in their eyes. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, says he and many members of the Apple team have a strong belief that the iPad will soon be more prominent in American homes and offices than the PC.
Will you be one of the advisors who are left behind?