May 31, 2013

Video Games May Hold Key to Future of Financial Planning

Technology and our competitive nature will combine to get clients across the finish line, says Jackson’s Ganguly

Don’t yell at your kids to get off the Xbox and play outside just yet. Staring blankly at a video screen for hours on end might actually help them in future endeavors.  

It seems that gamification will be a major trend in financial services, if predictions by Dev Ganguly pan out. The assistant vice president of technology at Jackson National Life said clients would play a game to earn something “like a credit score,” which would tell them how well-prepared they are for retirement, college savings for a child or some other goal.

“It will help advisors and clients stay ahead of the curve,” Ganguly explained at Curian Capital’s top advisor conference in Chicago last week. “Technology will be the facilitator and it will play into our competitive nature. Hit something like 1,000 points and you’ll be set for life.”

It will work something like this: with each new account, the client's score will be raised. Begin with a base plan and score. Add a 529 plan and the score goes up; add an IRA and it rises further.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the health care industry has employed these tactics for a few years to drive healthy behaviors like losing weight. It’s now ramping up in financial services, with Mint.com’s thermometer measurement as the most high-profile example.

“Moving forward, it will let you see how you’re doing against your own goals as well as how you’re doing against other people,” Ganguly added.

It’s part of the increasing comfort level advisors and clients have with technology over all, he argues.

“If you asked the same group of clients that were hesitant about using technology to its full capability as recently as three years ago, they certainly are not hesitant about using it now. This is especially true because of mobile and social media, and the move towards what’s known as Social CRM, which is really CRM 2.0.”

Social CRM is just as it sounds; combining social media with existing customer records for deeper engagement. It results in things like private LinkedIn groups for discussions. It also involves using Twitter as an educational tool that then steers clients to the advisors and financial services companies, something that Ganguly says he recently did himself with his own finances.

“From a business development standpoint, an advisor can sit down with that same client and using retail technology can help them take that next step,” he said. “It’s something [Jackson-owned] Curian Capital did recently with the mobile app they introduced for client proposal generation.”

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Read Summer School: 4 Tips to Protect Your Tech  on AdvisorOne.

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