Advisors and clients are increasingly adopting digital tools and those advisors who aren’t embracing them are missing an opportunity, according to executives from Fidelity, Charles Schwab and Conneqtor who spoke recently at Riskalyze’s online Fearless Week conference.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced investors to get used to communicating using video chat and other technology, Judy Marlinski, head of Product and Advisor Solutions at Fidelity, noted Thursday.
That transition hasn’t been simple. After all, it’s an “instantaneous real-time world that suddenly became never-ending,” which has created a “certain fatigue … that we really had to start to adjust to,” she said.
Fidelity became 99% remote within just a week or two of the pandemic lockdown in the U.S., Marlinski said, predicting the concept of “remote-first is not going away.”
“It no longer matters that you sit side by side” with clients as long as you can convey empathy through video and other tools available to advisors, she said, adding: “This is really an opportunity for firms to think about service models and really gaining the trust of clients.”
She agreed with Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein that advisors who learn to thrive now by embracing all these changes are likely to figure out how to make this a broader opportunity for growth.
Fidelity also is seeing more digital tool adoption, which accelerated since the start of the pandemic, she said. As an example, Marlinski noted the firm saw a 103% increase in the adoption of e-signature capabilities.
The firm is also seeing an opportunity for advisors in digital prospecting for clients, she said. With that in mind, Fidelity created a playbook for advisors to give them tips on how to improve their digital presence, including how to improve their social media reach, create email marketing campaigns and optimize their websites.
Schwab has continued to see “great adoption” of its Digital Account Open tool specifically, according to Lauren Wilkinson, vice president of Advisor Technology Solutions at the firm.
“Over a third of Schwab firms are now using Digital Account Open, and for those firms who are using it, they’re seeing a big improvement in their process,” she said, adding it’s also helping to reduce mistakes.
Meanwhile, integration of the Schwab Advisor Service platform with best-of-breed third-party products continues to be an area of focus for the firm, Wilkinson said, noting 150 third parties have now integrated with its platform.