Gamification: What Does it Really Mean for Advisors?

Written by: George Cooper

Gamification is a buzzword on the advisor technology scene, but what does it really mean?

Gamification refers to using the principles of ‘gameplay’ to increase engagement with clients, differentiate your services and increase retention.

Essentially, it’s a method of using technology to do the heavy lifting on remote client interactions, increasing touchpoints with clients and improving your client experience overall.

Without a doubt, the effectiveness of gamification has been proven in more traditionally disruptive B2C industries such as fitness, education, health and wellness. In fact, you’ve almost certainly experienced this yourself. 

I spent 3 months in Portugal earlier in the year, and I downloaded the Duolingo app to learn a little Portuguese. These little notifications (though admittedly not for Welsh, I couldn’t find a screenshot) were surprisingly effective in getting me to do my 5 minutes a day. 

Gamification in action. Speaking as a millennial lab rat, I can confirm it worked. 

Now the above may seem all good for reminding you to go to the gym, not eat cake, or teach yourself Burmese, but how does this really apply to financial services? Or more specifically, how does it apply to advisors?

Today, the most innovative firms are creating much more segmented, tech-supported delivery models for financial advice and wealth management. 

This is particularly true when we look at offerings to the younger client segments - fascinating versions of a ‘hybrid’ advice model are starting to emerge. 

In the UK for instance, so-called ‘Open Banking’ (a universal secure architecture that allows banks to securely send transactional data to third parties) is allowing for a totally new type of cashflow modelling and ‘robo-advice’ offering to consumers. 

British advisors are offering portals with direct open banking integrations, pulling entire banking feeds from multiple accounts and have support for almost every bank in the country with a simple click, and providing real-time feeds of transaction data. 

It’s easy to see how a gamified hybrid advice model could be created. Taking fund flow data from your back office system (perhaps even real-time open banking data), tracking progress and creating a dynamic world of engaging notifications and information for clients. 

This is exactly what the direct to consumer productized advice apps are doing, think: Cleo, Wealthfront, etc. Yes of course, these apps are aimed at a totally different type of investor and offer a vastly different service to most advisors, but there may well be a lot advisors can learn from this tech, especially when attracting and retaining the stereotypical prickly millennial client.

And while you might think this kind of technology is only for funded silicon valley startups or the largest firms, I think you’d be wrong. 

I spent some time over the last few days in the Absolute Engagement lab playing with free open banking APIs (application programming interfaces - basically simple ways to integrate systems), some dummy fund flow data from a large advisor CRM system and basic SMS/email API services. 

The result: I was able to build a simple gamified system that sends messages via SMS or email based on fund flow data and simple logic in about 10 hours.

Would that be a viable product yet? Of course not, but I mention it to prove a point. It’s not as hard as you’d think. 

It’s a brave new world out there for firms who are willing to think outside the box, and gamification may be the millennial magnet advisors are looking for. It’s just one of the experiments we’re looking into at Absolute Engagement to use technology to create deeper client engagement, but it’s definitely one of the more accessible ones. 

Related: The Data Point That Scared Me (and Should Scare You)