For decades, financial advisers built relationships with clients through fairly traditional means, but today's investors are looking to connect with their advisers digitally.
Advisers who leverage a comprehensive technology platform can provide an enhanced client experience while giving themselves time to focus on the aspects of wealth management they do best: helping clients navigate the financial landscape, tax and estate planning, charitable giving, and sophisticated financial and goals-based planning.
Below are the ways an integrated technology platform can help advisers improve client engagement:
1. Gives clients the access and interactions they are seeking.
Technology can help advisers provide clients with the information and insights they want anytime, anywhere. User-friendly tools – including mobile apps – give clients visibility into their finances in real time, and serve as a powerful sales tool to demonstrate the adviser's overall value.
The ability to link financial accounts outside the adviser's management is critical to helping clients have a full picture of their finances. The more tools and capabilities offered through the platform, the more likely it is that clients will view both the platform and their advisers as the No. 1 resource for their financial needs.
2. Provides advisers with a client's full financial picture.
An integrated portfolio and client management platform, coupled with data aggregation from an investor's assets and liabilities, enables advisers to provide a high level of service. They can gain more meaningful insights into clients' finances without creating manual processes. These efficiencies help advisers make stronger recommendations and focus conversations on financial goals instead of investment performance.
3. Increases touch points and improves communications.
A technology platform that integrates the client portal with a customer relationship management (CRM) system can alert advisers to client activity and prompt them to acknowledge and respond quickly to client actions. This provides the adviser with a good sense of what interests the client or causes the most concern. With these insights, advisers can better tailor their communication and focus on relevant topics.
A secure document vault also can provide efficiencies and safeguards. The ability to send, receive and archive documents through the portal can help advisers and clients stay organized and comply with SEC guidelines. When integrated with custodial platforms, electronic signature capabilities can further streamline document exchanges. Finally, having a paperless system for sharing documents also can reduce risk of loss or fraud.
Beyond these benefits, the portal is an excellent tool for enhancing face-to-face meetings and conveying information. Additionally, when an investor calls an adviser with a question, the adviser can quickly pull up the client's portal and walk them through exactly what they are seeing and answer any questions they may have. This interaction helps strengthen relationships.
4. Merges performance reporting and financial planning benchmarks
Increasingly, advisers are having goals-based financial planning discussions. Using client portal technology that not only integrates with a firm's broader portfolio management and CRM systems, but also exchanges data with the firm's financial planning application, enables advisers to keep their clients' objectives at the forefront.
In addition, advisers can leverage data aggregation to give clients a complete financial picture, and provide financial wellness tools – such as budgeting – to make their financial information more actionable.
5. Allows advisers to personalize clients' digital experience
When clients log onto a technology platform, advisers have an opportunity to reinforce their brand and showcase digital capabilities. It's important that the adviser control the client portal's look, functionalities and information so it can accommodate each client's unique needs.
While a few standard templates in the client portal will serve a majority of clients, it's important that advisers are able to customize the portal experience for clients with different circumstances. Technology can provide this level of customization and help advisers demonstrate their responsiveness to their clients' preferences.
The demand for more convenient, streamlined and real-time access to financial information and interactions with advisers will only increase in the future. To meet this reality, advisers must leverage a comprehensive technology platform that provides investors with digital solutions. This investment will help advisers improve their value proposition, focus on client engagement and ensure their business stays healthy for years to come.
Stuart DePina is president of Envestnet | Tamarac.