There’s a saying that offense sells tickets, but defense wins games. Financial advisers should think about their tech stacks as the firm’s offense to engage clientele, and emotional intelligence as the defense that wins their business.
That’s the upshot from the opening panel discussion at the AdviceTech.Live conference Thursday centered around adviser technology providing accessibility, financial wellness and client engagement.
Panelists discussed the ways advisers must be able to offer exciting technology tools while emotionally connecting with clients in ways that not only grow their wealth, but appeal to client’s larger goals around their lifestyle.
The fintech landscape can be a bit daunting, with increased merger and acquisition activity, new tech features constantly rolling out and new platforms putting the pressure on the advice industry to make their value propositions more exciting. Yet, despite all the change, what both tech providers and financial advisers need to focus on is client experiences, said panelist Penny Philips, president and co-founder of Journey Strategic Wealth.
“What we’ve seen [in fintech] is a race to see who can become the most efficient and scalable and who can create the stickiest consumer, meaning the client that goes to one place to have access to everything they need in financial services,” Philips said. “What I’d like to see fintech firms focus on is better user experience like better integrations between various platforms and a more client-centric approach then a profit-centric approach.”
Fintech has spurred some sort of “feature war” where advisers and fintech providers are adding features without really thinking about what’s usable, said panel moderator Craig Iskowitz, CEO of Ezra Group.
While it’s important to note that having the right technology tools is standard, clients already expect a well connected and engaging tech stack, said panelist Derek Notman, CEO and founder of Conneqtor. Today, advisers can have very similar techstacks, and the new struggle becomes adding value to your firm outside of technology, Notman said.
“We’ve gotten to where this human element actually has come back in and become more important than technology,” he said.
There has been a correlation between more focus on the adviser techstack and less efficiency in the firm because it can be easy for advisers to get distracted by the “shiny” new tech product, Philips said. “When we talk about adviser value the value is not in the tech that they offer, that’s become table stakes,” she said. “The differentiator in value is in the EQ and the personal relationship that you develop with clients.”
In order to create that perfect combination of tech and human connect, an adviser should choose the tech tools that are essential from the start, which includes a CRM, portfolio management and financial planning, said panelist Jay Coulter, anchor at Resilient Advisor TV.
“What I find, unfortunately, is people will find that shiny object that doesn’t fit into core tech stacks and that’s what they want to start with,” Coulter said. “But if you don’t have the portfolio management mastered, if you don’t have the financial planning mastered, it just creates all this confusion in the adviser and then the client experience.”
At the end of the day, tech is simply a medium facilitating the human connection, Coulter said. “So if you’re looking at a techstack, how human is that techstack? Because we don’t want to commoditize that human relationship because then we just feel kind of weird,” he said.
For advisers that don’t have a lot of resources to implement multiple technologies to their stack, focus on creating experiences for the client while they’re engaging with your firm throughout the year, Philips said.
“If [the client] is not going to get that connection via their client portal, or when they sign into their tech, they need to literally get that from you and the people on your team, something as simple as creating a surprise and delight campaign where you reward clients, perhaps for hitting a certain savings goal or a certain budget.”
Physically sending gifts or rewards for achievements can somewhat mimic the gamification experience, Philips said, like when Robinhood Markets Inc. sends a free stock to invest in. “We’re talking about the same neurological thing happening,” she said. “If you can’t do it via tech, you gotta do it with human capital.”
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Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.