Wells Fargo Advisors recently announced plans to partner with the tech firm SigFig to develop a robo offering. This news came several months after UBS’ wealth-management group in the Americas formed a deal with SigFig to work on different digital tools for its reps and advisory business.
The partnership should let Wells Fargo Advisors offer clients “tailored portfolios” online and a service for “emerging investors who want trusted investment advice and a holistic financial experience in the digital space,” it says. (Wells Fargo’s roughly 15,100 advisors and 3,900 licensed bankers have some $1.5 trillion in client assets.)
“Given the scale of Wells Fargo, this partnership will help SigFig continue to significantly expand our mission of providing high-quality investment advice to investors of all wealth and income levels,” explained SigFig CEO Mike Sha, in a statement at the time.
Devon McConnell, head of digital at Wells Fargo Advisors, describes the thinking behind these efforts and what the firm’s advisors (and clients) can expect when it comes to technology in the interview that follows.
What is Wells Fargo Advisors’ view on client expectations regarding technology (online, mobile, etc.) for the next, say, year or two? What is it doing to meet those client expectations?
McConnell: Clients compare our digital experiences, products and services to those in the other areas of their lives — Google, Amazon and other technology companies. The bar is high and keeps getting higher for us to meet their needs and expectations, which is why we’ve invested more in technology in the last two years than we have in the past decade.
This year, we launched a new, digital experience for full-service brokerage clients and WellsTrade self-directed clients on WellsFargoAdvisors.com. This redesign makes online investing more streamlined and seamless across mobile and desktop platforms, with improved navigation and easier access to all aspects of a client’s portfolio as well as research from the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
Clients also have the ability to send secure messages to their financial advisors through the site.
As we look ahead, we are focusing on ways to leverage technology and digital experiences to deepen client relationships, such as collaborative online planning tools.
Likewise, what does Wells Fargo Advisors believe advisors most want for both their office and mobile technology over the next year or two? How is it trying to meet those advisor expectations?
McConnell: We know digital tools and technology are gaining in importance for our advisors and clients. In a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey this summer, more than half of investors said they would trust the advice of a tech-savvy advisor more than advice from a less tech-savvy advisor, and 63% of investors under 50 say they are more likely to trust an advisor who offers them access to sophisticated digital tools.
To help ensure Wells Fargo Advisors continue to meet client needs, we have made significant investments in the past two years in new mobile and desktop capabilities that help advisors quickly analyze and respond to client questions. Client Dashboard is the latest in a series of technologies, including the Smart2Go mobile app and the Envision Plan to Pie enhancement.
These technology solutions help financial advisors efficiently manage their practices, have meaningful conversations with clients and ultimately grow their businesses.