The New Year offers a fresh array of opportunities for the wealth management industry. Many firms are deploying new advisor technology in 2014, and according to current survey data by CEB TowerGroup, 67 percent of financial services executives expect their technology budgets to increase over the next two years.
Better Technology, Better Client Service
New technology — specifically, financial planning tools with interactive and mobile functionality for advisors and clients — will allow advisors to more efficiently serve a wider range of demographics. As these collaborative capabilities are increasingly leveraged by firms, Millennials will be far more likely to engage advisors, and more likely to act on the advice they receive. The same is also true for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. This new technology easily facilitates tailoring financial advice to each respective age group so that advisors will also maintain a competitive advantage by catering to the unique needs of each client they work with.
In addition to bridging gaps with multiple generations of clients, new technology enables wealth management firms to better serve different market segments—such as affluent, mass-affluent and high net-worth investors. Many firms are finding that these distinct groups can also be better targeted with customized advice delivered through interactive and mobile technologies.
Data Aggregation and Automation – with a Focus on Mobility
In 2014, other top tech priorities include the deployment of integrated mobile solutions, automation of client on-boarding procedures, and seamless, front-to-back office data aggregation —all of which increase advisor productivity. Improved CRM tools will also remain high on the list of tech priorities this year, and as advisors are driven to become the primary sources of guidance for their clients’ unique financial needs and holdings, these capabilities will become a “must-have” for firms.
As another opportunity to provide greater insight to their clients, firms are also investing heavily in technology that can generate enhanced data analytics. These solutions establish and measure customized benchmarks for individual clients, in addition to providing consolidated account views on internal and external assets; in practice, this enables real-time, holistic reporting on assets under advisement, including deposits, loans, retirement and brokerage accounts.
Mobile Technology for Advisors and Clients
As widely expected, mobile technology will be a major investment for firms in 2014. However, firms are still trying to figure out how to commercialize mobile advice. Most investors expect mobile advice will be delivered to them at no additional cost, even though firms face considerable expenses in adopting mobile technology — primarily related to security upgrades and creating seamless integration with other internal platforms. Regardless, mobile advice is a critical tool for engaging the next generation of investors.
The Big Picture
In order to provide actionable advice, firms and advisors must change how they view clients; strategies can no longer be formulated in a “one size fits all” approach, and advisors should never think of “the client” as an all-encompassing term. Advisors must also ensure that client feedback is incorporated into every step of their planning and reporting processes. Careful consideration needs to be given to the distinct age, asset-base, and life goals of each client, all of which can be accomplished through new technology.