The challenge for advice businesses
Advice firms, large and small, have discussed with me over the years, and especially in the last 12 months, how to minimise time, maximise engagement and deliver advice to the right people at the right time.
Whether large or small, all businesses I have had discussions with over the years, and especially in the last 12 months, are looking to solve these challenges:
- Engaging more prospects;
- Taking those prospects through the initial financial planning stages of goal identification;
- Moving those prospects into the “action” stage: appraising their situation with suggested solutions;
- Maximising the efficiency of the client engagement process;
- Minimising statement of advice (SOA), application and implementation times; and
- Doing all of this in a compliant manner.
This is especially interesting when you consider that points 1 through 5 align with the financial planning process through: a prospects engagement with their finances and goal identification, financial appraisal, the SOA and the final implementation. This represents not only the key parts of the financial planning process but also those that provide the prospect with the most positive impacts on their psyche and sense of wellbeing.
The issue is that these steps take not only many hours to complete (about 5½ hours of face to face engagement and on average 21 hours in entirety), but these hours can be extrapolated over a year or longer as the initial inertia of a prospect (to get them to move from engagement with their finances, goal identification and finally into action) is elongated because of a host of reasons (time, timing, readiness, knowledge gap, trust, fear).
These challenges are also exacerbated (in regard to what is the solution for engagement, efficiency and compliance) by the focus on them by the regulator ASIC, who holds these parts of the process up as the most critical:
- The goals of the client in seeking advice;
- What the adviser says in relation to those goals;
- The suggested options for the client;
- What the level of understanding is; and
- What is agreed upon.
So the challenge as hitherto stated is how does one ensure they can minimise time, maximise efficiency, maximise engagement and deliver advice to the right people at the right time?
What is being done?
When we look at solving for this equation, we can draw from many examples in order of complexity and interestingly in the same order of “engagement effectiveness”:
- Simple online fact finds to assist with budgeting, risk profiling and goal setting;
- These simple fact finds embedded in portals that add some colour, imagery, icons, to the process to make it more engaging;
- The provision of education/self-paced knowledge collateral;
- The packaging of this curriculum in a study guide that can be “assessed” and in so doing provides the prospect a sense of achievement and progress (and also provides a compliance tick that said prospect completed basics of understanding – and hence removing the need for this generic information to be in the SOA where there is no guarantee that the prospect read or understood said information!);
- All of the above “gamified” into a more engaging educative web-based app that is self-paced, provides encouragement and feedback and deals with more than just financials, but has at its core the concept of values and goals;
- The ability for prospects to engage at different parts of this process with an advice “coach” and this engagement can ebb and flow and has as its hallmarks efficiency, engagement, timeliness and accessibility. This can involve face-to-face physical meetings but this diminishes: efficiency, timeliness and accessibility, and takes the prospect out of the “engagement hub” they are actually participating in;
- The solution to 6 is therefore virtual video meetings; and
- Once the prospect has moved to the action phase, the key is efficiency in cementing the understanding from all parties on the way forward and streamlining the implementation requirements (video meeting engagement, online applications, e signatures, SOA production).
Notably, AMP in Australia is building out solutions for 5, and once they solve for 6, 7 and 8, they could well become an unstoppable force in client engagement. But they will have challengers, as most, if not all, of the robo-shops have the capability and functionality for 5 and 8 (implementation) and virtual adviser offers such as Nationwide and Vanguard PAS have solved for 6 and 7.
The question therefore is, what are you doing about any of this?
Andy Marshall is the regional sales manager APAC of SuiteBox Solutions
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