From the September 2014 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Advisors Can't Ignore Mobile Tech

Mobile devices aren't just communication tools—they’re lifestyle tools

Clients expect you to be proficient in mobile technology. Clients expect you to be proficient in mobile technology.

August 2010: That was the first time I wrote about mobile technology and the opportunities for advisors. In its early stages, mobile technology was challenged with bandwidth, access to apps and speed issues. Now, however, you have abundant Wi-Fi hotspots, and the networks of the big carriers continue to increase capacity and overall speed. A lot has improved in four years. During this time, what has changed about your firm's ability to leverage mobile technology?

Consider this common scenario. I’m your client and I was scheduled to come by your office at 4 p.m. for my annual meeting, and afterwards we were going to have dinner across the street. You have this great conference room with a big-screen monitor on the wall. Then I call and say I’m running very late and let's just meet at the restaurant. Do you print everything out and bring it to the restaurant?

For advisors who have adopted mobile technology, this is not even a challenge. They are ready to use their iPad or other tablet to handle the entire presentation. This potentially entails using apps available through their custodian, portfolio reporting system, financial planning system and CRM. At a minimum, they also have certain components of the presentation stored as electronic files. Furthermore, they are comfortable with this approach because they’re already familiar with these applications in a mobile environment.

Consider another common problem: working with your office and clients while you are traveling. Can you effectively respond to clients’ needs while you are traveling? Or do you find yourself often calling into the office for help responding to client questions or, perhaps worse, waiting to follow up when you are back in the office? This should not be the case in today's mobile-ready world.

I see a lot of advisors at conferences and events with their smartphones, iPads and tablets in hand. In fact, hardly anyone needs to bring a laptop on a business trip. Mobile devices offer you the tools to efficiently respond to most client questions and not miss a beat. The days of coming back to a long list of client follow-up items after a business trip should be over. There really is no reason other than a lack of awareness or training for not using your mobile device to respond to a significant variety of client questions.

Finally, consider whether you are leading your clients to manage their financial affairs well in today's mobile world. Is there any doubt in your mind regarding the continued innovation and increasing use of mobile devices? Take a moment and think about the age spectrum of mobile users, from young children to retirees who purchased their first smartphone in their 80s. Given this high level of adoption, wouldn't you want your firm to be considered proficient with mobile technology in your clients’ eyes?

This goes beyond how your firm uses mobile devices; it also includes how your clients use their mobile device to interact with your firm. Consider impressing this point upon your next new client by having them electronically sign your advisory agreement using their iPad or tablet. It doesn't take a lot of effort, and the prediction of future adoption of mobile devices is easy to appreciate. According to Millward Brown's 2014 AdReaction Study, Americans already spend more minutes each day on their smartphones than watching TV.

As the story continues to unfold with mobile technology, these devices are becoming much more than just a communication device. They are essentially becoming a lifestyle device that touches every major area of our lives, from monitoring your exercise to being your electronic credit card to storing significant amounts of information on your health, relationships and finances. It is interesting to note that the phone part of the device is usually not the most frequently used function. Any way you look at it, there are many opportunities for advisors to leverage mobile technology. Just make sure to review how you are keeping up, and ensure that your firm doesn't become stale or get left behind in your level of successful adoption.

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