Technology is increasingly seamless as it integrates with our daily activities. Now, when we encounter a digital experience that isn’t smooth, it can be deeply jarring and disconcerting.
As a result, the digital experience we provide our clients needs to be intuitive, designed to meet their habits and it must work.
If it doesn’t, they may just choose to use someone else whose technology works better for them. This is especially true for younger generations.
Many advice firms recognise this, according to Netwealth’s 2022 AdviceTech Report, with three in five likely to increase their investment in client engagement technologies from the previous financial year.
But where should advice firms invest to improve their client experience? Netwealth’s 2022 AdviceTech Report reveals seven “human trends” that warrant attention and can provide direction for this.
In this article, we outline the first five client trends, and in an upcoming article we will conclude with the final two trends.
Trend 1: Hybrid communications are here to stay
The shift to online meetings over the past few years has certainly changed our ability to meet with clients, which works extremely well for both clients and advisers alike. According to Netwealth’s 2022 AdviceTech Report, 80% of advice firms hold online client meetings, compared to 46% two years ago.
However, even with this shift – we have found that the type of communication method desired by clients is dependent on where they are engaged in the lifecycle.
For example, according to Netwealth’s 2022 Advisable Australian research, face-to-face is still preferred by almost three-quarters of clients for their initial meeting with an adviser.
For follow-up meetings where important advice-related matters are discussed, almost six in 10 clients prefer some type of in-person contact – whether that be face-to face, phone or virtual meeting.
However, email becomes the channel of choice for over half of clients when they are receiving important documents for their records, information about new products and service or news and insights.
What AdviceTech is relevant?
The technologies you will need to support this multi-mode hybrid client relationship include full featured CRMs, email marketing tools, online meeting and chat tools – that are ideally all tightly integrated together and rely on the same client data set. A tool like Xeppo could be relevant here.
Trend 2: Helping clients help themselves
Technology has empowered consumers to do more for themselves, whether its buying presents online, booking flights and restaurants online or researching almost anything.
Advice firms need to recognise this do-it-myself mindset and provide tools for clients to ‘self-serve’.
Enter the client portal. It’s the principal tool available for advice firms to empower this DIY mindset, as well as providing an alternative engagement model for advice firms.
According to Netwealth’s 2022 AdviceTech Report, 42% of AdviceTech Stars (advice firms who are exceptionally good users of technology and deliver greater outcomes and benefits to their clients and staff), say they currently offer a client portal, which has grown from 29% last year, and a further 33% plan on using one in the next 24 months.
The types of features clients are looking for from their client portal, according to Netwealth’s 2022 Advisable Australian research, include things like access to investment performance, being able to track budgets and goals, approve and sign financial documents, as well as storing them.
What features of a client portal or mobile app would you highly or somewhat value?
Trend 3: The paper wars are almost over (Do we really need a printer?)
The idea of the paperless office has been around for years, but the idea of a paperless client interaction has been slower to catch on. That’s changing now with the use of client portals, document sharing technology with online signature tools. This is evident by the fact that digital signature tech usage has increased, rising sharply because of COVID-19 lockdowns. In 2017 only a third of advice firms used them (32%), but now they are used by more than two-thirds of firms (68%).
This shift to paperless will be welcomed by Australians 18+, with 70% of them rating access to their financial documents (for example their will or power of attorney) via a client portal as highly or somewhat valuable and over three-quarters wanting to sign financial documents (like insurance renewals) via a client portal (2022 Netwealth Advisable Australian Report).
Trend 4: Avoiding information overload and becoming the trusted source
There are two Advisable Australian segments who are wealthier than the average and are important clients for advice firms – we call them the Emerging Affluent, who are younger, and the Established Affluent.
Both are financially literate and large consumers of business, investment or financial news. According to Netwealth’s 2022 Advisable Australian report over half use a website or app at least weekly to access this news, and almost one in three consume it daily online.
Both these client groups utilise many different online sources, such online newspapers, social media, online forums or company reports for this news.
This information overload represents an opportunity for advice firms, where they can remove the ‘noise’ and become the trusted source of investment information, ideas and market news for these lucrative segments.
AdviceTech Stars, our benchmark, recognise this, with more than seven in 10 producing content – much of it in the form of online articles, plus we are seeing a trend to produce video content as well.
Trend 5: Taking advantage of the social media phenomena
Social media is perhaps the phenomenon of our age. It has become a cornerstone of media consumption, social interactions and communication, especially amongst younger generations, although it’s not just limited to the young anymore.
For advice firms, social media can provide a platform to distribute content, build and enhance your brand, develop trust with the market and give you enormous reach to new prospects.
AdviceTech Stars have embraced social media, and since last year, daily posting to social media has more than doubled by these firms from 7% to 18%, and monthly posting has also increased to one in three.
Linkedin remains the preferred platform for social media posting, with the proportion of AdviceTech firms using it unchanged from last year at 74%. This is likely because, although not necessarily the most popular social media in terms of usage by clients, LinkedIn is a platform that attracts professionals, an important key target market for advice firms. AdviceTech Stars are using Facebook less (falling from 90% of Stars to 69%) and Instagram (falling from 46% to 29%), while there has been a big jump in the use of video to get messages out with usage of YouTube growing from 9% to 26% of AdviceTech Stars.
Managing social media can be time-consuming, and an increasing number of firms are turning to technology to manage posts and social media activity. Social media management tools allow the coordination of social media posts via scheduling across multiple social networks from a single online location. Among AdviceTech Stars who post to social media there’s been a big jump in its usage, from 25% to 40%. A further third of AdviceTech Stars plan to join this trend in the next two years. One quarter of Stars outsource management to an external agency and one in five use Hootsuite.
Tools to help advise technology selection
Technology selection and implementation is challenging, particularly for more complex systems that impact many people and touch other systems. This is because advice firms have a proliferation of vendors with varying features and capabilities to choose from. Often, it’s also because business leaders either don’t have the time, capabilities or resources to explore and understand their options.
As a result, Netwealth has created a series of tools to help you on your AdviceTech journey, which are free to download.
AdviceTech buyers guide – In this guide we provide you with descriptions of over 35 different advice technologies and the most used suppliers in their categories. The report also examines the factors to consider when selecting a technology partner.
AdviceTech workshop – Prioritise technology selection and develop an AdviceTech roadmap for your business with this 90-minute team workshop.
Disclaimer: This information has been prepared and issued by Netwealth Investments Limited (Netwealth), ABN 85 090 569 109, AFSL 230975. It contains factual information and general financial product advice only and has been prepared without taking into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any individual. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial product advice and you should determine its appropriateness having regard to you or your client’s particular circumstances. The relevant disclosure document should be obtained from Netwealth and considered before deciding whether to acquire, dispose of, or to continue to hold, an investment in any Netwealth product. While all care has been taken in the preparation of this document (using sources believed to be reliable and accurate), no person, including Netwealth, or any other member of the Netwealth group of companies, accepts responsibility for any loss suffered by any person arising from reliance on this information.
More from Matt Heine
11 November 2022
How to Use the Valuable Treasure-Trove of Data You Collect to Improve the Client Experience
Technology has reshaped the customer experience in almost every sector. Digital first attackers continue to enter markets with radically new offers, disrupting…