Digital tools that Edward Jones has been rolling out over the past few months are already helping advisors and clients overcome challenges, including those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Alyssa Jennings, a financial advisor at the firm.
The Virtual Business Enablement Tools were developed as part of the $500 million that Frank LaQuinta, principal and chief information officer at Edward Jones, said the firm has invested in its overall digital strategy.
Some of the tools “we’ve been able to roll out over the last few months has been particularly useful as we’ve pivoted to this majority virtual environment,” Jennings said.
The two tools she said have proven to be especially useful so far are My Priorities, a gamification tool that allows clients and prospective clients to rank their priorities, and Webinar Hub. The latter provides “a way that I can invite clients” to virtual webinars put on by the company’s home office, she noted.
My Priorities: The Starting Point
Edward Jones advisors have “been able to continue to see our clients face-to-face” thanks to Zoom and other video conferencing platforms, and “we’ve been able to deepen the conversations” with clients via tools including My Priorities that clients can access before they speak, she said.
My Priorities, which rolled out June 29 and is available to all 19,000-plus Edward Jones financial advisors, includes a quiz in which clients can “communicate to us what’s most important to them on their time frame in a way that is the most accessible to them right now,” she said.
“And then when we are able to talk face-to-face” in person “or via Zoom or whatever the case may be… we’re able to get deeper into the conversation faster and focus really on what’s important to them,” she noted, adding it “really enhances the experience.”
As an example, Jennings talked about a client couple in which the husband cited his dream home “at the top of the list” of his priorities after answering the tool’s questionnaire. His wife indicated she was surprised. But he explained that, for him, a dream house would be a home “on a pond with some property that the grandkids came to all the time” and that would help add to all the “family memories they were building.”
That “allowed us to start planning for building that dream home,” and Jennings built it into the overall financial plan for the couple, she said. Without that, “it may have been years before we got to the point” in which it came out that the home “was the most important thing to him,” she said.
My Priorities “doesn’t replace the conversation” — it just provides a “starting point for us as advisors [and] it helps us narrow down what’s really important to our clients in a way that is approachable for them.”