There appears to be research from larger markets such as the USA to suggest there is a new type of financial adviser out there, dubbed the “e-Adviser”, who is winning way more business than other advisers are.
An e-Adviser is not a robo-adviser either….thought I would just get that one out of the way at the outset. The e-Adviser is a tech-savvy person (or bunch of people in a firm) who are using digital techniques, software systems and technology platforms to enhance the human-to-human advice delivery model.
Some of the reported outcomes for e-Advisers…
- attracting 40% more new business than the average adviser
- more than 90% of the e-Advisers are growing their book (even if it is not at 40% more than the average)
- growing their overall revenues right across the board
- achieving higher than market average client retention rates
- servicing on average 55% more clients than other advisers
- achieving wider geographical client spread
- attracting more Gen X and Gen Y clients than is typical in other firms
That is not an exhaustive list (and it is one I’ve compiled from various research-based articles over the last 2 years), but it is nevertheless a pretty compelling list of reasons to consider how to incorporate more client-focused technology solutions into a practice isn’t it?
Basically the bottom line from the research on adviser technology use is that those who are rapid adopters and who look to build strong tech-based rapid communications systems and internal efficiencies is that they make get more business, get more clients from the hard to reach segments of the market, keep more business for longer and don’t have that much trouble handling service levels for significantly bigger books of business. Oh…and they make more money.
What are these e-Advisers doing differently to traditional Advisers?
- investing in the best technology hardware & software they can in order to have safe, secure and fast communications systems for clients. Privacy protection is critical when your business is essentially based upon private data collection and private data interpretation, right?
- building multiple communications methods into everyday client communications, from digital to voice to SMS to social media…and whatever else is evolving rapidly as a way for people to stay in touch or communicate with other people.
- they are delivering at least parts of their advice process digitally, with use of on screen document sharing and signing, recordable video conferencing, automated document delivery and acknowledgement and so on.
- using technology to collaborate better internally – better record-keeping and data management leads to better focus and higher efficiency inside the firm as key staff tend to work on the areas, or aspects of a client file, where they have the particular expertise.
- building client access into their data management. That is, they are finding and creating ways for clients to be able to access their own data whenever and however suits the client to do so.
- they are ignoring the normal limitations of geography. The right clients can be dealt with wherever they happen to be….they no longer have to live within a convenient geographical distance of the practice.
- the bulk of their business building (or “marketing”) techniques would appear to revolve around the twin strategies of creating very high levels of personal credibility and referability, and hence driving high introduction and conversion rates, together with strong digital presence across multiple platforms and systems to attain prominence in search amongst their ideal target market clientele.
There is a certain sense of Darwinism about these findings. The apex animals on the planet achieved dominance by figuring out how to use tools to achieve things that their personal physical attributes could not achieve. This ability to identify how to create and then use “technology” became the key differentiator between the species who thrived, and the species who merely existed or worse, faced extinction.
Could that be just as true for financial advisers?
Those who are slow to adopt technology as a means of connecting and communicating better while creating efficiencies inside their practice will certainly face a tougher path than those who do so enthusiastically and quickly.
It seems that the e-Adviser has little to fear from the Robo-adviser, especially as the e-Adviser is most likely to emulate the aspects of robo-advice which make sense from the client perspective. Why would that be true. Because the e-Adviser is embracing the opportunities that technology presents to deliver services quickly and in the manner that clients prefer, and that approach is clearly delivering the freedom to do more business with more people.
When it comes to technology use by financial advisers, it really does look like it is a case of get with the programme, or get left behind.