Technology has the power to awe, captivate and inspire.
It also has the capacity to make us more efficient and free up what is our most precious resource – time. So, while eMoney and the other providers at eMoney’s inaugural summit showed off some slick technology and delivered the wow factor, the real message attending advisers are taking home is that eMoney and its partners are looking to do more than provide practice management and financial planning tools. They want to use big data, seamlessly integrated technology and better training to help advisers deliver better service in less time.
During the conference, it was repeated that technology was not there to dis-intermediate the adviser, but to make their job easier and save time. Technology to help make better decisions, technology to help facilitate client discussions, technology to better understand a client’s risk capacity versus risk tolerance, etc., etc. Again, all of the above promises to save time.
And what should adviser’s do with all that spare time? Edmond Walters, CEO of eMoney, suggested that his platform could earn back a month of time each year for advisers, perhaps to spend with family or to spend on growing their business. It wasn’t the last time business development made its way into the conversation. In more than one breakout presentation, the speakers addressed the idea of lead generation for advisers. Many vendors, like BizEquity and MoneyGuidePro, touted tools and ideas to support lead generation in the exhibit hall.
Most interesting to me was that many conversations with advisers attending talked about the lead generation and savvy selling they hoped the most recent advances could help them with – even though the utility of the represented tools and products goes far beyond that. The tech providers I heard didn’t shy away from the connection the advisers were making and often took the opportunity to demonstrate how their offering saved time.
As tech providers rush to claim a role within the lead generation and business development piece of an adviser’s practice, a few things need to be brought front and center:
1) Financial advice is still a referral business.
If an existing customer of a financial advisory firm or a robo-advisory reports to his or her friend a positive experience, that can make all the difference. Advisers have to think about how they can change their client experience and client communications to excite clients to talk about their own experience.
2) Fitbit didn’t kill the personal trainer and robo-advisers won’t kill (the good) financial advisers.
Health and wellness apps and tools have taken off in popularity, giving individuals the capacity to monitor their own fitness goals and measure their diets and physical output. At the same time, the business of personal training and fitness classes has never been more robust. Financial advisers have to realize that the arrival of new tech tools will bring in a new batch of customers previously unengaged by the industry.
3) Are you using the data at your fingertips to its fullest potential?
No doubt that the latest integrations of software can help you make better financial planning decisions and support portfolio management, but that same data could help you identify new business opportunities. Do your referral spikes coincide with your periodic client review meetings? Do you have clients from a common employer that are running into similar financial issues? There are so many things to look for and still more that the latest technology promises to push to you.
4) The added time will open up doors for more business development time,
but what will you do to make those new connections? Congratulations, you’ve successfully integrated all the technology into your practice and you’ve picked up a free day each week for marketing and business development. So, what now? How are you communicating with your target audiences? What are you doing to make sure your firm is more well-known in your community, within the offices of major employers in your area and among current and prospective referral sources? You could package up some “off the shelf” content and filter it through your CRM in hopes that your clients share it with friends. Or, you could go on a limb and marry up a contemporary communications program with your whizbang technology to turn prospects’ heads and engage them uniquely in who you are and what your specific expertise might be.
The presenters at the eMoney Summit were on to something in relating to the lead generation and business development need advisory firms have, but the tools only give advisers time to face that business development challenge. It’s what they do with the time that will determine which firms will sink or swim in the tech-enabled financial advice world.
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