As someone who enjoys setting goals, I am a keen maker of new year’s resolutions. A big one for last year was to get out on my bike more. I committed to cycling 20km twice a week in the hills around Bath, where I live.
Have I stuck to it? More or less. I concede that some weeks it has been once rather than twice. Some days the cold weather or the driving rain have seen me turn for home before I hit the 20k mark.
But I have got out there more than ever before, enjoyed the time in nature and noticed a marked improvement in my fitness.
So why, I found myself asking recently as I pushed myself on a particularly challenging climb, was that guy cruising past me so easily, and on a mountain bike at that?
As he pulled ahead I got a better look and the answer became clear: he was not superhuman, and all my months of training had not been in vain. He was on an electric bike.
This felt to me like a metaphor. However hard you work at something manually, it can only take you so far. Technology can always give you that extra edge.
Many advice companies have come to this conclusion themselves in recent years and particularly during the pandemic, embracing the possibilities that tech can offer their businesses. Others have been more wary, fearing perhaps that they will automate themselves out of a job.
But when you automate the analysis in the suitability assessment, you are not automating advice. You are simply harnessing technology to do the job more quickly and more consistently.
When you use a great system for cash flow, when you employ risk profiling instruments, you – like my friend on the hill with the motor – are finding ways to make the work easier and faster, with all the benefits that brings to you, your company and your clients.
I therefore offer companies three tech resolutions for the year ahead.
1. Get the client doing more. Increasing numbers of companies are asking their clients to use online risk profiling and fact finding ahead of meetings. Enhancements that help clients understand their values and preferences are likely to become increasingly mainstream in the years ahead.
Some companies are concerned that the use of such technology will damage perceptions of the adviser’s expertise. However, feedback from planners suggests the opposite is true, with 87 per cent of companies surveyed by Dynamic Planner stating that technology is improving their ability to serve clients. The right systems not only speed up the process, but enhance the relationship, giving clients a sense of ownership over their financial plan.
2. Seize the opportunities of the hybrid world. Many companies have reaped an unexpected productivity dividend in the pandemic, as the shift to hybrid working – combining screensharing, digital systems, video and in-person meetings – has enabled them to access more clients, more efficiently than ever before.
Using video calling is only the start. The financial plan is beginning to move from a ‘once-and-done’ to an ‘always-on’ model, in which the digital plan, based on the client’s risk profile, goals and financial arrangements, is continuously updated with valuations, enabling both client and adviser to track progress and course correct as needed.