What eAdvisors Do Right

By Tricia Haskins, Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions

How technology can help lead to better business results

We’ve come a long way since high-tech in wealth management meant locally-installed, manually-updated, disparate DOS-based applications. Today in the age of instant information, smartphones, and digital advice, investors are expecting more from their advisors. Unfortunately, there are many advisors who have yet to fully embrace the advantages that technology can bring to their practices; technology that can result in faster growth, enhanced client service and better business results.

A recent survey[1] from Fidelity Investments shined a light on this link between technology and business results, in an age where technology is more important than ever. Succeeding where their non-tech-savvy peers aren’t, advisors have found a key to making technology work for them and are adopting automated and digital capabilities for both client-facing and operational activities.

These advisors, dubbed “eAdvisors”, are helped by technology and are excelling in several quantifiable ways. They have 40 percent higher AUM than their peers, as well as more high-value clients and more Gen X/Y clients. They are expanding their reach, attracting the investors of tomorrow, and building bigger businesses.  Not to mention, they’re happier. The findings validate what we’ve all known in our guts – technology helps advisors succeed.

The Profile of eAdvisors

These are exciting findings, suggesting that we’ll continue to see advisory firms that encourage technology use by their advisors, as well as adopt future-ready technology, as firms that can better serve their clients and grow their businesses. Numerous trends support the need to implement digital tools, including investor preferences in their relationship with their advisor[2]; the rise of financial advice delivered online through an engaging interface[3]; and the impending advisor talent shortfall[4] that may necessitate leveraging technology to improve productivity and attract a new generation of advisors to your firm.

For firms that have not yet crossed the digital divide, the tech know-how to fully harness the power of technology may at first seem daunting: where do you even begin? But there is tremendous opportunity for the tech-curious who want to harness the power of technology to enhance their business and their client relationships. Keep in mind that a methodical evaluation and implementation of new capabilities is most effective as you lead your firm through changes that will have a profound positive impact on your business and your clients.

It is equally important to remember that the most innovative technologies may fall far short of expectations if you haven’t analyzed your goals, challenges, and day-to-day tasks, and determined which tools can work best for your firm. No e-solution will add value to your business if it doesn’t meet your unique needs and those of your clients and staff.

Building an eAdvisor Business

Want to look more like these successful eAdvisors?  Start by identifying your goals and then implement the solutions that are right for your firm. Here are some steps you can consider.

  1. Goal: Reaching out to clients and prospects electronically.
    Tackle Today: Consider creating a profile for your firm on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to promote your business, establish thought leadership and develop connections. Remember to engage your compliance team to establish a strategy and review process for any social media use.  Also stay in regular contact with your clients online to keep them up to date on developments that may be important to them.
  1. Goal: Consider creating a virtual work environment to allow employees to work anywhere.
    Tackle Today: Equip your team with mobile tools, such as tablets to allow them to work and transact from anywhere, as well as video conferencing to connect with your clients wherever they may be.
  1. Goal: Introducing capabilities to enhance operational efficiencies.
    Tackle Today: Automate workflows in your CRM, streamlining business processes and accelerating turnaround times, while also offering e-signature capabilities to new clients to help speed up client onboarding and create a great introduction to your firm.
  1. Goal: Providing clients with a dynamic, holistic view of their financial situation.
    Tackle Today: Enhance the client experience by providing a comprehensive financial picture that includes both asset and liability data. To enhance the viewing experience, suggest advisors in your firm bring two tablets to client meetings to enable them both to review, and make changes to information while sitting together.
  1. Goal: Keeping your team up to date on investor interactions.
    Tackle Today: Leverage your CRM to its fullest potential by ensuring all employees have fully adopted the application, tracking all client interactions, integrating with other systems and linking your phones. This can provide quick access to client information when any person in the firm answers the call.
  1. Goal: Improving the client experience with online access to information.
    Tackle Today: Provide an online dashboard and vault to your clients, which can allow them both easy access to information, and to share documents securely with you. It’s not just about engaging your clients, but collaborating with them strengthens and enhances relationships.

The ability to use technology to its fullest can have a profound impact on the success of your business, as evidenced by the research into eAdvisors. You have a tremendous opportunity to better help your clients navigate their financial life and achieve their goals. Leveraging technology tools that help provide an outstanding client experience, expand geographic reach, and increase access to the next generation of clients, while increasing employee satisfaction, can help your firm thrive for years to come. The tools are out there, you just have to use them!

[1] The 2014 Fidelity® Investor Insights Study, part of Fidelity’s Insights on Advice program. This study included a total of 1,064 35-minute online interviews with investors, and was conducted during the period from July 14 through July 28, 2014. Respondents were screened by a minimum in investable assets (excluding retirement assets and primary residence), age, and income levels. The sample was provided by Bellomy Research’s network of online panel partners.

[2] 2014 Fidelity Investor Insights Study

[3] “The Future of Finance: Part 3,” Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research, March 2015

[4] Cerulli Advisor Metrics Quantitative Update 2015 & Envestnet estimates, Envestnet Compendium of Industry Trends, April 2015

Tricia Haskins is Vice President, Practice Management and Consulting, Fidelity Clearing and Custody Solutions in Boston. The content provided herein is general in nature and is for informational purposes only. Fidelity Clearing and Custody Solutions provides clearing, custody, or other brokerage services through National Financial Services LLC or Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Members NYSE, SIPC.

© 2016 FMR LLC. All rights reserved. 750128.1.0

 

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