This can sometimes be a controversial topic: Should you encourage your clients to access account information online, communicate with your firm electronically or even take your relationship from being primarily face-to-face to more virtual?
I believe it is a good idea with most clients today, and it is even more critical as you serve the next generation of wealth. Some advisory firms do an excellent job serving their clients using virtual tools. Still, for many other firms it is a challenge to get clients online. Instead of swinging for a home run with your virtual strategy, let’s discuss a couple of singles and doubles that your firm can try for.
First, determine which of your clients are already using online channels, either through your website, your custodian’s website or other electronic channels. Clients who are already online are a great source of information on not only what they are doing online but, more importantly, why they use particular resources. They will help you understand what is valuable and even provide you with ideas on how to improve their experience. Ultimately, this feedback will also help you explain the benefits and features for the next client. If you need a place to start, ask your custodian which of your clients have online access for their accounts and electronic delivery of statements and other documents.
The next question involves understanding the primary online channels your clients use to connect with you and with their accounts and reports. Is there any consistency between the various products and channels?
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For example, perhaps your clients can view their performance reports online, view their accounts directly through your custodian’s website and maybe even use an aggregation tool available through a product like eMoney. These are all great online resources, but clients may be confused if it is not clear how the information and reports from each provider differ. You could make matters worse if you leave it to your clients to figure out on their own. It will be your job to introduce each resource to your clients. The best practice is to have a specific online access strategy, with simple descriptions of the resources available and clear instructions about how to access them.