Whilst automation has come leaps and bounds over the past few years, investors and financial advice clients will continue to seek ‘the human touch’. There are several factors that weigh in on this, but predominantly clients enjoy the interaction, collaboration and advice that comes with one-on-one dealings with their financial advisor.
The human interaction between an advisor and client cannot be underestimated, particularly in the journey towards boosting customer satisfaction. A recent study found that investors look to their advisor for support in several aspects of their lives, with 69% of respondents citing “keeping me motivated and on track with my financial goals”. Additionally, clients recognized the importance of an advisor’s ability to understand their personal life, individual goals, family dynamics, and inclusion of older children within financial planning discussions.
Regardless of how little or how much money one has, it is still an emotional matter. As a result, the ability for an advisor to offer emotional guidance through direct communication can never be replaced by automation. As people move through different stages in their lives, priorities and financial goals evolve.
Accountants who become financial planners must develop their listening skills and must be sensitive to others to forge a lasting relationship with clients. Listening and feedback are important ingredients in financial planners' communication with their clients. – CPA Journal
While computer algorithms and robots can draw conclusions from data, they cannot replace an advisor’s ability to understand the client’s whole financial situation. Through collaboration with their client, advisors can take into account long-term goals, family dynamics, risk tolerance and more.
Technology is a fantastic tool, but it can never fully replace the expertise, planning, experience and understanding that comes from a human relationship. That’s not to say that automation should not be leveraged within a client-advisor relationship, but rather it supports the human interaction. Whilst investors typically want to communicate with their advisor on a regular basis (on average this is reported to be three times a year), it goes without saying that they would additionally expect a variety of additional communications throughout the financial year. The automation of various communication and financial planning compliance requirements can help to both alleviate mundane tasks from an advisors schedule and improve productivity.
An automated program, no matter how sophisticated, will never be able to deliver the same benefits as traditional financial advisors, who know clients, their respective goals and their risk tolerances by virtue of the trusted, long-term relationships they have established. - CNBC
In this modern digital era, the ability to communicate effectively with clients has become increasingly challenging. There is a fine line that needs to be walked between too much communication and too little. Not only that, which is the best channel of delivering communication and is appropriate for such communications versus channels deemed inappropriate and such like. Every day the average person is exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads (Source: Forbes). And that is just adverts – what about all the other messages that we see? Cutting through this clutter and ensuring delivery of critical messages is essential – particularly when it comes to financial advisor compliance and stockbroker compliance. This only emphasises the importance of utilising the right tools, such as an automation platform that ensures secure message delivery of critical documents to clients as needed. This simply supports the primary mode of communication between advisors and clients, which according to a recent Australian study, continues to be in the form of face-to-face meetings.
Whilst technological tools continue to reshape the wealth management industry, the role of advisors and their relationships with clients continues to remain critical. Financial advisor automation software that streamlines communications, delivery of client-specific information and offers self-help portals for clients, allows an advisor’s time to be freed up for that ever-important human contact. The old adage of “time is money” has never been more appropriate. The repetitive tasks that are commonplace and necessary in the financial world can be systematically replaced with automated processes. However, the ability to implement these cannot be underestimated. What is commonly referred to as “bad data in = bad data out” should not be ignored. Regardless of what point in time your firm is looking to implement automation, the importance of sound, accurate, and maintained data is critical. Whilst reinforcing to advisors the advantages of automation, it should similarly be reinforced that unless time and diligence is taken within systems and processes, automation is likely to be erroneous and non-compliant.
The mobile-first millennial and Gen Z generations are well-known to be the most comfortable to embrace digital technologies. In fact, according to Business Insider it has been practically declared that Gen Z are likely to completely disrupt the approach to technology, information flow, business models and customer interaction. What is probably the most unnerving is that a recent survey reported that 55% of Gen Z’s struggled to last longer than five hours without internet access. This brings both advantages and disadvantages to the advisor. One of the most important advantages is that as a financial firm implements automation and technology within their business, it’s almost certain to be embraced whole-heartedly by upcoming generations. That is, of course, so long as the data and processes are sound. Additionally, the communications that are delivered via digital methods such as secure messages, email, etc. are highly likely to be viewed within a short period of time by their Gen Z recipients.
Regardless of the level of automation within your business, the necessity of advisor-client face time should not be underestimated. Advisors should ensure they take the time to retain personal relationships and interaction to ensure that they not only provide great customer service but also emotional understanding, support and advice for their clients. Automation is the way of the future and needs to be embraced by firms, but it is not a replacement for the human touch within client-advisor relationships.