Technology can not only help you create a consistent client experience but can also lead to deeper, more personalised client interactions, writes Johann (JK) Koch, chief sales officer – UK and Australia of intelliflo.
By fostering deeper client engagement, you can improve the customer experience while boosting loyalty and trust. In turn, this can help drive revenue growth. A study by consumer intelligence firm Motista found that emotionally involved customers are four times more likely to refer a friend than those who are simply satisfied customers. The relationship you have with your clients is crucial to building close connections, but there are several ways you can use technology to enhance your human interactions.
1. Communicate regularly
The uncertainty of the last 12 months has often meant that, more than anything else, clients just want reassurance. Research shows that 49 per cent of Australian advisers reached out to clients at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a clear link between proactive communication and client satisfaction.
Maintaining regular communications post-pandemic can help encourage your clients to stick to the financial plan through periods of volatility and spur them on to get in touch if their circumstances change. To minimise the work required, you can automate the process through your back-office system by creating bulk email templates that can be easily customised for each communication and linked to specific client lists to ensure individuals only receive relevant, timely information.
2. Bring the plan to life
Advisers are bound by regulation to be document-heavy, but when faced with reams of paperwork to wade through, most of us switch off. Bringing the information you give clients to life through calculators and personalised illustrations can enrich your offering and make a huge difference to their understanding of the strategy and engagement with their plan. Tools that integrate directly with your back-office system make it easy to provide live interaction during meetings using the client’s data in different financial scenarios.
Cash-flow modelling is a great example of how you can use technology to improve the delivery of advice. A recent UK intelliflo survey found that although just a third of firms questioned currently use cash-flow modelling with all clients, the vast majority (88 per cent) agree that it not only helps demonstrate the value of advice to clients but also encourages them to engage in the financial planning process as a result.
3. Create a consistent customer experience
Over the last 12 months, a lot of your client contact will have, through necessity, switched online through client portals and virtual meetings. When the restrictions ease and life goes back to “normal”, many clients (and advisers) will want to return to face-to-face meetings, but others will prefer to continue using videoconference functionality and communicating digitally. Our UK survey found that 68 per cent of advisers expect less frequent face-to-face communications with clients in future.
Regardless of whether you’re seeing clients in person at the office, in their homes or via a screen, technology can help you maintain a consistent service. Access to client data across multiple devices means you can communicate the same information via a laptop or tablet or via screen-sharing functionality, while consistent branding across all touchpoints – your office, website and the client portal – ensures your firm stays at the forefront of the customer journey.
4. Use data to personalise interactions
A report last year by McKinsey in the US predicted that personalisation will become central to financial advice, with 80 per cent of new clients wanting a data-driven “Netflix-style” advice model by 2030.
Streaming services continually refine their recommendations based on the customer’s preferences and McKinsey anticipates that this “hyper-personalisation” will be applied to financial advice in the next decade.
It’s already possible to integrate data from advisers’ own systems with data from the larger banks via open banking to create a holistic view of the client’s finances. In future, initiatives like the broader roll-out of the consumer data right, plus machine learning are set to widen the potential for advice firms to create cost-effective bespoke solutions for individual clients.
You might not be ready to “Netflix” your firm just yet but using client data to personalise interactions is an excellent way to strengthen relationships. Knowing important details about a client’s life also helps create a more rounded financial plan. You can more easily deliver a more personal advice experience if your data is up to date, complete and in a consistent format that is accessible across different systems and multiple devices.
Human relationships remain at the centre of financial advice provision but making technology and digital tools a fundamental part of the process can have a significant impact on your client’s engagement with the advisory experience.
Johann Koch, chief sales officer – UK and Australia, intelliflo
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