Outside-IN

Technology must reinforce trust, or else

Show your clients that you have their best interests at heart by making innovations in your offering

Apr 10, 2018 @ 10:46 am

By Ron Carson

Look around that desk of yours for a moment. Think about your personal relationships, your work, your family and even your own daily habits. Technology plays a role in every aspect of your life, sometimes without your even knowing it. We're in the midst of a paradigm shift — one that admittedly has made me think as much about the human condition as the technology changing it.

HAS TECHNOLOGY INFLUENCED THE WAY WE TRUST?

Just this past week, Mark Zuckerberg took the heat for letting malicious parties access Facebook user data, saying, "I'm responsible for what happened here." Uber recently suspended self-driving vehicles after news surfaced that one of its self-driving cars had killed a pedestrian in Arizona. Meanwhile, debate continues to swirl as Amazon advances its efforts to tackle drone delivery, which some view as an attempt to invade privacy. According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Survey, 59% of us say we're less able to delineate between truth and fake news.

From drone delivery to political elections, tech is changing the world at a pace most of us can't comprehend. Take blockchain, for example. The nature of our newly found "sharing economy" is influencing the way people trust. It's become an invisible force shaping our behavior, and it has created a battleground. On one hand, we enjoy the convenience and new capabilities technology brings to our lives. On the other hand, we sense the potential risk in sacrificing our personal data, our privacy and our control.

So how can advisers leverage technology to enhance their clients' lives, while also reducing doubt and without sacrificing trust? The answer lies in using the technology — financial planning software, CRM, website, etc. — as an engine to build trust and transparency instead of skepticism and fear.

TIME FOR COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY

Our profession still struggles with a tainted reputation. A 2016 poll by the American Association of Individual Investors revealed that 65% of respondents said they mistrust the financial services industry to some degree. Clients walk through our doors every day with hesitation. Let your technology serve as an avenue that presents compelling visuals and initiates straightforward discussion. There's nothing more powerful than helping your clients see the impact of their decisions through a little show-and-tell. Demand transparency of your firm, your team and yourself, or your clients will beat you to the punch by choosing someone who can provide it.

EMBRACE YOUR AUTHENTICITY

People trust others because they sense sincerity and openness. A recent Dimensional Fund Advisors survey revealed the biggest reason investors choose an adviser is because they feel a personal connection. Personalize your client's online portal. Brand your financial planning process. Humanize your website. Showcase the personality of your team. Memorialize your cultural values and core principles in a tangible way for everyone to see. Technology is the last frontier of a business advisers haven't humanized, and that's exactly why it's so refreshingly unexpected when you can show this authenticity through something as mechanical as processes, systems, software and investment management.

PROVE YOURSELF THROUGH INNOVATION

The best way to prove your loyalty to clients is to reinforce that you have their best interests at heart by innovating your offering. They trust advisers who use technology to eliminate doubts or concerns and showcase their value first-hand. The price of progress is the pain of change. What we're facing now is the painful process of assimilating new technologies. In less than 10 years, we'll be able to jump in the car and let it take control of the wheel. By the time my grandson turns 16, driverless cars will be the norm. Think of the comfort and trust we'll have because of the way this technology ensures his safety. The future is closer than we think.

Technology so often is used to hide something, like the true presence of meaningful value. Advisers must understand their clients not only crave doing business with brands that look out for their best interest, they adore firms that can demonstrate and deliver on those promises by sharing how their products and services continually evolve to better serve clients' needs. A firm that innovates is a firm that shows it's actively reinvesting in the business and, by extension, each one of its clients.

Trust is scarce. It's fragile. It's fluid. And it can't be controlled. For CEOs, earning trust is "job No. 1." It's our responsibility to define how technology can be used to reinforce trust, or we all run the risk of its being destroyed completely.

Put people at the center of what you do. Use technology as an engine to prove it. Trust will follow.

(More: The financial adviser evolution is underway)

Ron Carson is CEO and founder of the Carson Group, which serves advisers and investors through its businesses: Carson Group Coaching, Carson Group Partners and Carson Wealth. Follow him @RCHusker

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