Your client portal is not your client experience

Advisers need to use portals in parallel with the way they communicate, educate clients and market their business

Sep 5, 2019 @ 2:27 pm

By Kyle Hiatt

By now, most clients realize they need some kind of web- or app-based interface for their clients. Many folks characterize younger investors as tech-savvy, but boomers — your most lucrative clients — are some of the most enthusiastic adopters of consumer tech.

It almost goes without saying that you need to meet them where they're at — and for most modern solutions in this industry, that means leveraging client portals. But that should be where your work begins, not ends.

A good client portal can empower your clients with insights into their financial landscapes. What it can't do, however, is single-handedly revamp your firm's client experience. Assuming a client portal will fulfill all of these needs and let you get back to doing the same thing you've always done is like assuming you can build a successful steakhouse with just a salad bar.

Again, I'm not here to knock client portals. They're a useful tool we've seen advisers on our platform deploy to great effect. But the truth is, no portal — no matter how sophisticated — will let you dust off your hands and say, "Now I don't have to think about my client experience any more." Portals are important, but they have to work in parallel with the way you communicate, deliver information, educate your clients and market your business. If you're leaving these tools in your toolbox, you're foregoing opportunities to show your distinction in the marketplace, serve your clients and grow.

[Recommended video: Advisers put digital marketing tools to work to generate new clients]

I find it's helpful to think of your client experience as your "brand experience." That encompasses a lot of things: how do you win the interest of your prospects? How do you address their priorities in your planning and asset management strategies? What sets you apart from the crowd? The answers to these questions shape the value your clients find in the work you do for them. When you operationalize your practice, you start to see opportunities to create a more consistent brand experience.

Every client is unique. They will use whatever tools are personally relevant to them. It's your job to meet them where they're at. The client portal is one of your most visible points of contact, but a particular client might also treasure the unique way you communicate with them through texts, emails, or tailored notifications. Others might access your value through screen-sharing and co-browsing tools. Your brand experience is literally what you make of it, built and reinforced with every single interaction you have with your clients. There are so many ways for you to engage meaningfully with your clients. It's up to you to show them the whole menu.

Kyle Hiatt is executive vice president at Orion Advisor Tech.


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