The rise of advicetech means advisers are faced with so much choice. It’s easy to stall and even easier to take a wrong turn.
A bad decision costs more than money. It can compromise the quality of advice, threaten compliance and undermine staff morale. Most of all, it wastes time.
Navigating the increasingly crowded advicetech landscape doesn’t have to be a fraught experience.
The right combination of smart technology solutions can deliver lasting improvements to productivity, service and profitability. This empowers advisers to focus on what they do best – giving advice.
Know where you want to go
From artificial intelligence to blockchain and robo-advice, advicetech has solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had. But that doesn’t mean you need everything. You just need to know the problem you’re trying to solve.
It might be as simple as introducing online meetings, or a larger project like upgrading your CRM. For many advisers, their first priority is boosting client engagement.
In the next financial year, 79 per cent of advisers plan to invest more in customer engagement tools compared to the year before, according to recent research. That’s higher than the proportions planning to increase spending on technology for advice and financial planning (73 per cent) and operations and workflow (69 per cent).
Pick the right partners for the journey
Once your goals are front and centre, the next step is to decide on the solution that can make them a reality.
The rapid influx of entrants into the growing advicetech market can make that feel like a daunting task for advisers. Studies have shown that too many options can make buyers hesitant and have more doubts about their decisions. And the bigger the commitment, the tougher it can be.
Paradoxically, it’s the growing range of technology on offer that also holds a solution.
New players are disrupting the industry by concentrating on doing one thing brilliantly and focusing on that niche. Established solutions that look to dominate the market and be all things to all people are finding that the competition is tougher.
Investing in technology is no longer about finding a single tool. Instead, advisers can select multiple specialised products to create a customised suite of solutions that meets their specific needs. This offers the ability to choose best-in-class providers at every stage. It’s also more cost-efficient – some bigger systems are like buying a whole car when you only want a sound system.
While some established providers can be fiercely protective of their boundaries, the new order appreciates that its strength lies in being flexible.
Advisers should settle for nothing less than technology that is built to reduce friction at every point. That means it should be highly customisable, configurable, and able to plug and play seamlessly with other systems and frameworks.
The advicetech market is full of great ideas. But a clever concept isn’t enough to deliver genuine customer value. A great solution will partner with its clients, supporting them through implementation, training and support, and continually improving functionality.
Buy the ticket, take the ride
A provider’s job isn’t finished once the new solution is installed – and nor is an adviser’s.
Keeping the momentum going will help move past the initial discomfort that is an inevitable part of change. Old processes are familiar, and it takes perseverance to get over the hurdle from implementation to habituation of the new solution.
Once technology is embedded as a natural part of day-to-day activities, the business stands to get the full payback. However, many advisers are yet to apply their new tools beyond a small proportion of their client base. In some cases, fewer than a quarter of practices are using them for over half their clients.
The same research found that advisers’ adoption of technology is influenced more by their own attitudes than by the composition of their client base.
Advisers are a diverse community, but they share a common problem. Like all service businesses, they are limited by the number of hours in a day. Sustainable growth comes down to their ability to make their business scalable.
The new wave of digital cloud-based solutions offers greater efficiencies across every part of a practice, from high touch or deep client engagement to administration and investment, there is a solution that solves one or many practice problems. With a clear plan, advisers can cut through the clutter and build a scalable business that thrives.
Peter Malekas is the founder and managing director of Moneysoft
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