Here's How Dialogue, Technology, And Greater Visibility Can Enhance the Advisor Experience
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As people's financial goals change, they rely on advisors to help them adjust to meet their various challenges and objectives. In the finance sector, much is being said about the importance of providing the client with a great experience — but simplifying the advisor experience should be given equal weight.
Wealth management executives can't provide a truly seamless experience to their clients if the advisor experience is lacking. Enhancing this experience requires dialogue and the provision of tools that empower advisors to perform their jobs effectively.
Engaging in Dialogue with Advisors to Establish Their Needs
The advisor experience is crucial to the success of a wealth management organization because advisors are at the forefront of delivering services and experiences to the client. Wealth management executives wanting to give their advisors the tools that will allow them to preempt client needs must have conversations with those advisors to establish their own needs and pain points.
Wealth management organizations that fail to craft experiences that meet their advisors' needs will not be able to keep pace with those that do. Advisors will naturally seek out employers who understand what they need to be efficient, stripping organizations that don't of the ability to effectively compete.
Especially in the fee-based registered investment advisor community, the idea of "holistic financial planning" has been around for a while. But there's often a disconnect between promising that level of service and actually delivering it.
The Role of Technology in Enhancing the Advisor Experience
Technology can help advisors take financial planning to the next level for clients. In a recent survey reported by CNBC, 68.3% of fee-only advisors, 60.6% of dually-registered advisors, and 44% of brokerage and wirehouse advisors were employing sophisticated and user-friendly financial-planning software to deliver on the promise of "holistic financial planning" for their clients.
Joel Bruckenstein, the Head of T3 Consulting Services, an organization that helps advisors understand and adapt to technology trends in the wealth management industry, conducts an annual survey of thousands of advisors on the software tools they use. Sixty-four percent of the more than 5,500 respondents to the 2019 survey said they were using financial-planning software. Larger firms tended to use the software more than smaller ones, and 63.6% of advisors with over 20 years of experience use it compared to 55.1% of those with less than five years of experience.
Choosing the Right Tools
According to the T3 survey, 52.3% of respondents said that customer relationship management applications were the most valuable to their practices. Financial-planning software ranked second at 22.9% — almost twice as popular as portfolio management software.
The most comprehensive software products for financial advisors will offer tools for assessing different Social Security filing strategies, projecting future health-care expenditures, determining debt-management options, and optimizing tax planning or retirement distribution scenarios. These assessments should incorporate assumptions about a client's risk tolerance and the potential returns from an investment portfolio.
Financial planning software can enable advisors to develop deeper relationships with their clients, and the role of these applications is changing to reflect changes in demographics. While the software has historically been used to help people planning for retirement, tools have had to evolve to take in the needs of a younger generation of clients.
Sheryl Garrett, CFP and founder of Garrett Planning Network, which has 250 advisor members, emphasizes the need for tools that enable advisors to make better connections with their clients. "The biggest flaw in financial-planning software comes from too much data entry," Garrett says. "Most of the clients we work with are average Americans and what they need is a simple, straightforward projection tool. For a 20-year-old client, you want something quick and clear and you want to be planning for the next 10 years of their lives."
Creating A Viewing Platform for Advisors
In addition to providing advisors with individual tools for meeting the needs of their clients, wealth management executives also seek to create a platform for advisors, which will give them a single view of their clients in order to improve operational efficiencies.
A digital wealth management platform (DWMP) can provide this functionality, offering digital solutions that optimize the client experience while streamlining operations and increasing productivity for the advisor.
A DWMP can automate processes like the onboarding of customers, with some platforms offering AI capabilities such as machine learning, natural language processing, and digital process automation to reduce exceptions. Technologies like digital decisioning, APIs, and intelligent agents enable advisors to aggregate accounts and harness tools for document sharing, collaboration, advanced scenario planning, and visualization.
Innovative platforms with predictive analytics capabilities empower advisors to suggest desirable courses of action and drive better insights and dialogue with clients. Systems offering wealth management and core banking integration provide a single view of the client's financial picture.
The Mutual Benefit of Enhanced Client and Advisor Experiences
A CNBC report on financial technology observes that, in addition to reducing the amount of time that advisors spend number-crunching so they can focus on strengthening client relationships, software programs help encourage clients to be more active participants in their financial planning.
For advisors, technology can play a strategic role in serving more clients, managing greater assets, and providing those clients with comprehensive, holistic planning.
Organizations that implement digital strategies to keep advisors happy will gain a tremendous advantage over those that don't. They will be seen as truly innovative and worth working for. Advisors will remain loyal to organizations that keep their needs and experiences at the forefront of their planning.
Simplifying and enhancing advisor experiences, automation, and financial planning technology are all set to be hot topics at Digital Wealth 2020, which takes place at the Ritz-Carlton, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, from May 19 - 20, 2020.
Download the agenda today for further information and insights.
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