It is quite common for advisors to discuss their firms’ technology solutions and processes with other advisors, service partners and consultants. These conversations often occur during conferences and study groups with the goal of making sure that advisors are aware of the latest technology solutions as well as identifying new ways for their firms to be more efficient. However, have you considered how your prospects and clients might view the way your firm utilizes technology? Is their impression that your firm is technology-savvy? Here are some areas to think about that can influence how your firm measures up with clients when it comes to technology.
When you first begin working with new clients, they will quickly get an idea of the role technology plays in your firm. During this initial process, take a close look at how you gather information from clients for developing their financial plan and investment strategy. Is this process still primarily paper-based with questionnaires and other documents? If so, this isn’t automatically a negative, but paper and the clutter it brings can easily be interpreted as inefficient and behind the times. Therefore, you have the opportunity to improve this experience and the early impression of doing business with your firm by adopting paperless processes. Consider offering the ability for your client to provide this information via an online template tool, perhaps through your website or other channel. A core feature of many financial planning solutions is a collaboration tool, which allows both you and your client (either together or separately) to input this information directly through the website and then make changes accordingly as time and circumstances change. The use of such technology helps solidify client relationships for many advisors.
Another area to consider that could influence how your clients view your technology is to make it very easy for them to send you information securely. Encrypting documents is generally not very hard to do, but unfortunately it can be confusing for clients to do on their own. In addition, there is always the question of what password to use and whether they entered it correctly. Instead, consider offering a method for your clients to securely send and receive documents directly with your firm. This could be accomplished via portals, secure mailbox services or other file-sharing websites like Egnyte, Sharefile or Dropbox. You could also check with your current website provider to see if they offer file-sharing solutions. Offering this type of transmission service sends the right message to your clients regarding the importance you place on protecting their information.