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Are You Using Technology to Engage and Collaborate With Your Clients?

February 20, 2012

I created this blog to explore the intersection of leadership, advice and technology to improve the lives of financial advisors and their clients. Leadership is a critical element for any organization, and there are many great sources to tap for inspiration and further exploration.

But setting leadership aside for the moment, I have lately found myself thinking more deeply on how technology can enhance the advisor/client relationship– and how rarely it actually does.

In my last post, I reflected on banking as the second oldest profession in the world; and for much of the industry’s history it was not what we would call today a very “scalable platform”. It was a person to person business, and despite much innovation, in many respects it still is. Especially in the high net worth and ultra high net worth space.

Technology has been employed on a very large scale in transaction processing, record-keeping, funds transfer and numerous back office functions for analytics, risk management and compliance. But front office investments in technology have all too often been focused on cutting costs or improving advisor productivity. Good for shareholders, but what about the client experience?

Dodd-Frank and other legislation is quickly pushing compliance spending to the top of the priority list. A 2011 survey by Aite Group and Wall Street & Technology found the 25% of CIOs ranked compliance their top priority– up from 10% in 2010.

As tablets move into the workplace, the traditional advisor/client face to face conversations are moving to more collaborative “shoulder to shoulder” conversations, and many firms and advisors are not prepared for what I believe is truly a seismic shift.

Financial technology firm Balance Financial had a blog post entitled “What Facebook Taught Us About Personal Finance Tech“. The post described some of the challenges advisors and firms face:

Again, personal finance is a naturally collaborative chore.  Even more, professional financial services rely on collaboration.  If you are a financial advisor or CPA, you must interact and engage with your client to deliver services.  You have to get to know your clients, collect information, stay informed of changes to their life and find ways to stay relevant in an ever changing world. 

In the future, look for tools and solutions that use technology to help make the naturally engaging & collaborative process of professional financial services more efficient and rewarding.  The most powerful technology being developed today makes the natural interaction and communication between humans more transparent, more efficient and more frequent. 

I first learned of Balance Financial at Finovate 2011, and I recently had the chance to sit down with Balance CEO Devin Miller to learn more about how his company is using technology to improve the lives of advisors and their clients.

It seems like so much of the recent innovation in the financial industry has been to empower the do it yourself investor and borrower. I think that’s a really good and healthy thing for the industry, but so many clients don’t want to do it all themselves. They want a trusted advisor, but they don’t want to give up the cutting edge technology to get it.

In order to retain and win clients and assets in 2012 and beyond, advisors will need to engage and collaborate more with their clients. Technology can be a great enabler when it’s designed with the right end in mind.

How are you using technology to engage and collaborate with your clients?

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