Financial advisors face growing competition from both traditional and robo-advisors, but technology can help you develop a competitive edge. According to Fidelity’s Meet the eAdvisors report, tech-savvy advisors managed to accumulate 42 percent more assets under management, 35 percent more AUM per client, and 24 percent higher compensation than traditional financial advisors.
Nearly 90 percent of so-called eAdvisors used data aggregation tools, such as client portals, to provide clients with a complete picture of their assets and liabilities. In fact, Carson Group Partners brought in $1.5 billion in new committed assets after rolling out a new client portal where clients can access their net worth, account balances, and performance data in one place.
Today, we will look at how advisors can keep up with the tech offerings of these firms that manage billions of dollars using off-the-shelf solutions.
What Are Client Portals?
Client portals are websites or mobile apps that provide clients with a place to view personal financial information and use financial management tools. You can provide clients with current views of account balances, performance, allocation, and holdings, as well as account statements and other financial documents. This information can also be easily shared with accountants, attorneys, or other service professionals.
Some of the most common client portal features include:
- Advisor Integrations – Client portals may offer integrations with third-party tools that you already use, including portfolio management, customer relationship management (CRM), or financial planning systems.
- Account Aggregation – Client portals may aggregate a client’s financial accounts, including held-away accounts and custodial feeds, to provide the client with a comprehensive overview of their finances.
- Client Communication – Client portals may offer automated client communication, such as quarterly performance reports, personally branded for your firm.
The best client portals take advantage of the latest advances in technology, making them intuitive, exhaustive and convenient.
You can choose between buying an off-the-shelf client portal solution that can be white-labeled to match your branding or building your own client portals from scratch. Off-the-shelf solutions are significantly less expensive and complex than developing a custom solution. Development costs for complex apps can range from six figures to over $1 million – and that doesn’t include ongoing maintenance costs.
How Portals Build Revenue & Reduce Costs
Client portals are not just fancy tools for your clients that don’t bring any added value for you. Brent Brodeski, CEO of SAVANT Capital, stated, “One of the first accounts SAVANT set up was for a $10 million prospect who while going through the process was reticent to change advisors because his wirehouse advisor offered him an aggregation solution he used each day. Wealth Access allowed SAVANT to provide an alternative aggregation solution that allowed us to eliminate that final objection and close on the prospect.” Download the SAVANT Capital case study here.
Carson Group VP Aaron Schaben told Financial Planning of one prospect that became a client in a single visit after seeing their portal, saying, “The client was with another firm for 12 years and had never seen that level of data in only a few hours … By the following Tuesday that person was a client.”
Portals should be viewed as an investment rather than an expense as they can increase revenue and reduce costs.
They can improve your revenue by providing access to:
- Clients’ Held-Away Accounts – Client portals aggregate data from various client accounts – including held-away accounts – giving you the opportunity to identify gaps and/or bring more assets into the fold. For instance, you might notice that a client doesn’t have a 529 plan and recommend a product to help save for college. Learn more about converting held-away accounts in The Power of Intelligent Aggregation, the results of a research survey by Wealth Access.
- More Time to Prospect – The operational efficiencies gained by using a client portal open the door to more prospecting time. You might set up a demo account to show prospects how the portal looks or even provide them with the account aggregation features as part of the prospecting process to glean insights.
Client portals can reduce costs in several ways:
- Reduced Paperwork – Client portals enable electronic communication that’s more convenient for clients and cheaper for advisors. You don’t have to print and mail reports, commentary, invoices, or quarterly updates.
- Reduced Contact – Client portals reduce the need for phone calls and in-person meetings since they provide clients with the most current and accurate information at their fingertips. Integrated portals may also enable a client to upload documents that can trigger one of your workflows without the need for a phone call.
- Efficient Communication – Client portals enable advisors and clients to view the exact same information. If a client calls with a question, an advisor can log in to see exactly what the client is looking at to efficiently address any problems that may arise.
Our client portal features drag-and-drop functionality with advanced views into total wealth, a complete balance sheet view, cash flows, asset allocation, and much more. You can also setup customizable report generation, document vaults, and critical alerts to dramatically improve client communication. And it can be customized out of the box to match your existing branding, so your firm’s name is all clients will see.
If you have an existing client portal, then you can leverage our open Personal Financial Management APIs, allowing our customers to build their own mobile, web, and app interfaces. The deployment is efficient, seamless to integrate, and user-friendly.
Improving the User Experience
The benefits of client portals go beyond revenue building and cost reduction – they help dramatically improve the user experience.
After implementing a portal with Wealth Access, Lutz Financial of Omaha, Nebraska, saw that firsthand.
“95% of our goal is to enhance the client experience and give our clients a tool they didn’t have before,” said Justin Vossen, partner at Lutz. “Ultimately, if that helps us capture assets, then that’s great, but it also helps us be more accurate and saves time.”
Client portals help you demonstrate the value that you provide by offering clients a single point of access to obtain a complete picture of their wealth and track their account performance to financial goals. This holistic picture enables you and your clients to engage in higher level discussions that can lead to well-informed investment decisions and better outcomes, while also keeping your firm at the top of their mind.
The Bottom Line
Client portals are a great way to increase revenue, reduce costs, and improve the client experience, while positioning your firm at the center of your clients’ financial lives. A client portal’s comprehensive feature set ensures that clients have access to all of their important financial information at a glance, while enabling easy communication and document sharing for advisors to make the advisory process as seamless as possible.
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