Re-inventing the Role of the Financial Advisor
By Jens Rabe, COO at unblu
Clients want to speak with their advisor when they want and how they want. While they have been quick to adopt online and mobile channels for service interactions, they still prefer human contact for their important decisions. But they are reluctant to go in the branch, unless it’s for a worthwhile reason. So when a client does go into their branch, they expect more than mortgage scenario calculations – they can do that themselves online.
How the Client-Manager Relationship is evolving:
Today’s investors are information-hungry and resourceful. They are looking for a proactive advisor who understands their goals and who can give them a tailor-made plan based on a holistic view of their finances. Meanwhile, their advisor has to be well-positioned with expertise to guide their customers. This means they need to be less focused on routine tasks and instead, cultivate relationships and higher value interactions. For instance, document sharing tools allow clients to digitally sign documents, saving them a trip to the branch, while freeing up their advisor to focus on more valuable tasks.
In a world with fewer branches, financial advisors will have to rely less on the traditional workspace and instead leverage technology to drive customer engagement and build relationships. Their workspace is evolving into a virtual space and they need to be as connected as their clients in order to not just keep up with them, but to provide virtual advice that is relevant and useful.
The Right Tools Make all the difference
The spontaneous, natural flowing communication style of our everyday interactions is now available for our financial conversations. Connective digital tools like video chat, co-browsing and messenger allow the advisor and client to build a trusting relationship without needing to be in the same room. Financial advisors know these tools can extend their ability to address the needs, wants and preferences of their clientele.
In a survey of more than 800 hundred advisors, about three-quarters of all respondents recognized the importance of state-of-the-art technology. More than 600 say it is essential to their business success. Nearly all of them say technology will allow them to deliver better service to their clients. More than nine out of 10 believe technology will make them more competitive, and four out of five say technology will make their business more efficient and, consequently more profitable.
High-quality advice on the client’s terms
Advisors have to adapt to the client’s preferences and constraints and not vice versa. Digital tools can support advisors as they coordinate with their clients and support them on their evolving client experience. But advisors also need to be flexible in how they meet the unique needs and preferences of each client, including how much engagement should be technology-driven.
Clients particularly value the ability to interact on nights and weekends, when they have time to discuss their finances. One way to accommodate clients is to provide “window” branches with extended hours for customers to connect with experts through video conferencing.
Based on the range of customer preferences, it looks like virtual financial advisors and in-person advisors will be working in tandem for the foreseeable future. But the time for innovation is now. Advisors have the opportunity to be proactive about meeting customer needs and ultimately transforming the customer experience. Doing so will help in aligning them with their clients’ expectations: be available, be responsive and provide personal good advice.
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