Online account aggregation is rapidly maturing as a strategy for financial representatives to grow their businesses. Many technology solutions are available, and each aims to help producers and their clients view all of a client’s financial information in one place.
Insurance coverages? Check. Bank accounts? Check. Retirement plans? Mortgages? Frequent flyer miles? Check, check and check.
Such technology tools have been available in major banks, but customers have shown little interest in using them. The public’s tepid reaction stems from a desire for more than just information or a sophisticated technology tool. People need help sorting through their complete financial picture.
Americans haven’t been too impressed with the account aggregation tools currently available to them through many of the nation’s leading banks. Several banks have scrapped their aggregation services in recent months because no one was logging on. But, that doesn’t mean the concept has failed.
Consumers are jaded by fancy technology tools that do nothing more than let them track information. They’re not clamoring for the ability to check their retirement balances at 4:29 a.m. while on vacation in Fiji. But, they still want a single source of reference for all of their financial affairs. And that means — as it has always meant — finding a trusted financial representative to walk them through the big picture.
As account aggregation technology becomes more sophisticated, financial representatives are harnessing it to grow their practices. They’re using it to keep tabs on client goals, cross-sell and up-sell products, and boost client confidence.
Of the $800 million that financial services firms spent on information technology for wealth management in 2004, $104 million was for account aggregation tools, according to research from Celent LLC. That figure is expected to leap by 8-9% each year.
Information is valuable only when it can be translated into action. Producers seek comprehensive, up-to-the-minute financial information at their fingertips not because they want to impress clients with technological wizardry, but because they want to provide better recommendations and service.
Suppose one of your clients stumbles on a real estate investment opportunity and wants to know how he might fund it. A good aggregation tool serves as a ready resource that gives you and your client an instant snapshot of his current financial situation and points to potential sources of cash. You won’t need to ask how much his home is worth, how much his mortgage payment is, or how much he’s been able to squirrel away in savings. You can get right down to planning his next financial move.