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How technology could change advisers’ relationship with clients

How technology could change advisers’ relationship with clients

There’s a good chance that you are reading this – if indeed you’re reading it at all given it’s summer holiday season – on a tablet; possibly on a deckchair with a glass of something refreshing.

So in keeping with the time of year, let’s come away from big, heavy topics such as regulatory intervention, industrial-strength portfolio management, replatforming and all the rest of it, and think about something a little bit more pleasant.

In a recent survey – to which 116 firms responded – we asked how firms saw the interaction with clients changing with respect to technology in the next five years.

We were pretty encouraged by the findings. I don’t know if you know this, but advisers have a bit of a Luddite reputation in terms of your enthusiasm about adopting new technologies. You and I both understand that this is born of many long, painful technology projects.

So when we asked if you thought the industry would be more efficient in five years’ time, we could do nothing less than salute your indefatigability when you answered in the manner shown in Chart 1

You have to love a sector that has the optimism to believe that, after 20 or 30 years of technological frustration, the next wave will be the one that nails it. Or at least 70 per cent does. To be fair, that may be because a good 20 per cent of our respondents were paraplanners, and while we didn’t ask their age, I have a sneaking suspicion they are irritatingly young, intelligent, vibrant and full of hope; we can only hope that gets knocked out of them soon.

Things will hopefully get better, but our subject now is the interaction between adviser and client. 

Do it yourself

We all know that one of the biggest inefficiencies in the adviser back office is the need to record client details in multiple places – I’ve written before about the state of integrations in the sector and how far it has to come. 

One way to get past that is to invite clients to input their own details into one of the systems you use (most likely your financial planning/cash flow software, or your back office). This has the virtue of a) being less work for you, b) reducing errors because people do tend to spell their own names correctly (and if I had more space I could tell you about the number of times I’ve had letters to ‘Dear Mr Poison’), and c) marking out your territory that your service is mainly about financial planning and not admin.

The downside to all this is that a) you have to check the client’s work because it turns out sometimes they really can’t spell their own name, and b) there might be some pushback from clients who reason that they are paying in the region of £200 an hour, and frankly you can do the typing, not them.