Financial professionals who are increasingly competing with online digital advice firms are looking for their own set of digital advancements: tools that highlight the benefit of the human advice to clients and notifications to help advisers anticipate clients' changing needs.
"The technology that's coming will be technology that really better re-enforces our value proposition as financial advisers and really puts us far ahead of today's robos, which are really tackling just one problem — investments," said Andrew Altfest, managing director of Altfest Personal Wealth Management, at the InvestmentNews Fintech Think Tank on May 22.
He and other industry professionals want clients to be able to know exactly how advisers are helping them.
"When a client goes home, there should be much more balance, like, 'Here's what we have done for you recently,'" Mr. Altfest said. "'We helped you refinance a mortgage that had a balloon payment in two years; we also made these changes in your portfolio. And here's a lot of other stuff that we're doing.'"
Nick Graham, chief technology officer at Cambridge Investment Research, said technology that interfaces with clients shouldn't be so simple that it hides an adviser's efforts.
"The fact that he stayed on Saturday and worked Monte Carlo scenarios to be able to come up with the unique answer, for the question that the client had, should be something that he can demonstrate without having to walk [the client] through it," Mr. Graham said.
Advisers also are seeking richer client data to predict what clients will do or might need next.
Christopher Cordaro, chief investment officer at RegentAtlantic, said his watch notifies him when he's been sitting too long and needs to stand up. He'd like a similar prompt about his clients.
"The planning side, that's where we're in the Stone Age," Mr. Cordaro said. "I need some type of planning, behavioral triggers like that for my clients so that I can service more clients in a more efficient way and give them a better experience."
Doreen Griffith, senior vice president and chief information officer at Ladenburg Thalmann, said advisers are seeking such clues to client behavior.
"The No. 1 thing that our advisers feel would be of value is client attrition behaviors that they could be proactively aware of so that they can do a proactive reach out to understand," Ms. Griffith said. "The confidence level in the data is just not there."
Richard Keltner, director of product management and investment services at Fiserv Investment Services, said the market is about to deliver.
"We're on the cusp of being able to offer a highly personalized experience from taking in real-time data about your clients," he said.