As financial advisory firms embrace technology to stay competitive and enhance in-house operations and relationships with clients, they should consider this: “Technology is the great equalizer among firms big and small,” according to Evan LaHuta, head of client experience at BNY Mellon. “Everyone starts to look the same, so how do you add value?”
That was the focus of a panel LaHuta led at last week’s Pershing Insite 2018 conference on how to use digital technology to transform an advisory business.
What Does Your Business Sound Like?
Bill Winterberg, founder of FPPad.com, a consulting firm that helps advisors adopt technology in their practices, suggested that advisory practices embrace easy-to-use technologies to stay in touch with clients, including:
- Flash briefings, audio content that plays on smart speakers like Alexa. Advisors can discuss the local real estate market or other topics and “become part of a client’s everyday routine.” All it takes, said Winterberg, is a telephone microphone and using services like storyline.com, which publishes flash briefings for free. “It’s a new way to meet client expectations.”
- Video content on YouTube to communicate with clients and others and publicize your views. Typical YouTube content consists of speeches and other presentations, many with visual aids like charts and graphs.
- Secure CRM software that allows, for example, clients to transmit documents to your office using their phones. Winterberg recalled a story about Galen Herbst de Cortina, a young financial advisor and online gamer, who lets clients send him their latest contracts with sponsors by taking a photo of the contract on their smartphone, then sending it via text or email. Many banks allow clients to deposit their checks that way.
- Finding a niche: De Cortina also exemplifies this recommendation from Winterberg. As an online gamer, he noticed that fellow gamers had no way to allocate their winnings to save for their financial future, so he became a financial advisor specializing in that client market.
Video conferencing and text messaging were also mentioned as ways advisory firms can enhance their relationships with clients and eliminate the “friction” — Winterberg’s word — of using paper.
Having the Capacity and the Right Personnel
But do firms have the capacity to serve their clients well while also adopting more digital technologies what will change the way they do business, require training of personnel but ultimately enhance client services?
“A digital conductor will be needed,” and possibly other changes in personnel as well, said Michelle Feinstein, director of product strategy and client engagement for technology solutions at Pershing.