3 rules of advicetech for wealth advisors
Topaz recently attended AdviceTech Live, a conference on the subject of advicetech, a term that describes the provider-side tech shaking up the wealth advisory industry. Among the many insights from CEOs, thought leaders, and product demos, we want to focus on our takeaways from the panel, “What’s Next in AdviceTech?” which shed light on trends in advisor-facing technology.
What is advicetech?
Advicetech refers to the technology used by wealth management advisors to serve their clients. It takes many forms, from improving client engagement, offering greater value, and lowering client-side barriers to entry to increasing advisor capacity.
Rule #1: Adopt a hi-tech, hi-touch approach
Penny Phillips, President at Journey Strategic Wealth and one of the four panelists, highlighted the need for the wealth management industry to up its focus on what clients want, an area where the industry’s attention has lapsed. Current low levels of user experience lead to low engagement and decrease the clients’ “stickiness” (the likeliness of the client to return to your product): “I’d like to see them focus on better user experience, better integration between various platforms, and a more client-centric approach,” Penny highlighted.
Her fellow panelist Derek Notman, CEO and Founder of Conneqtor, supported her on that point, reminding us how the industry has developed: a decade ago having tech was a significant competitive advantage. Nowadays, tech is a necessity—“tablestakes,” according to the panel—so the paradigm switched back to a client-centric approach. “Human element is the main thing now”, Notman said.
This goes to the heart of the Topaz perspective that advice today needs a sophisticated blend of personal touch and technology, where technology is the engaging enabler to the human interactions (what we refer to as hi-touch, hi-tech). And although technology is indeed a must-have, as we have written previously, a sophisticated and satisfying digital user experience is yet to become the “new normal” in the industry: reports show that 60% of high-net-worth individuals are dissatisfied with the personalization level of the services they require. All providers may have tech as part of their customer proposition, but not all are doing it well.
Rule #2: Do due diligence to avoid falling for “shiny objects”
Derek Notman identified a common pitfall that providers must navigate: “They [industry workers] see awesome demos, there is shiny object syndrome. We get all that stuff and then it’s like, ‘Oh man, I don’t know how to use this, this is getting pretty expensive pretty quick, I’m duplicating things I thought I wasn’t going to.’” When it comes to procurement, to reduce the risk of duplication, take time to investigate the tech available to you before incorporating it. Don’t try to serve HNWI clients with a one-size-fits-all solution. A provider must evaluate their client’s needs and find a solution that satisfies them—but not necessarily any more than that.
Jay Coulter, Anchor for Resilient Advisor, summarized this idea: “Don’t get all the tech, get the right tech.”
This is right. A technology investment decision cannot be taken lightly, and advisors need to take a holistic view that encompasses existing systems, data access, security, and budget as well as client experience. A provider needs a modular system that can be implemented rapidly and tailored to their clients’ particular needs.
Rule #3 Create experiences for your client
The panelists brought up the subject of gamification. As a means to increasing customer engagement, gamification—the act of applying game-playing rules to other activities—can be powerful. However, indiscriminate gamification is not always appropriate or advisable depending on the subject matter, as may well be the case in wealth management. Wealth management is, after all, a serious matter with long-term horizons.
As a method to avoid being replaced by gamified apps in the short term, Penny Philips noted the possibility of introducing gamification-like elements into a service. For instance, a provider can deliver “something as simple as a surprise and delight campaign, where you reward clients perhaps for hitting a saving goal,” she said. By increasing engagement in this way, client stickiness—the likelihood of the client to return to your product without switching to other companies—will increase.
That resonates deeply with us because an exceptional client experience is Topaz’s North Star. For instance, here is our vision of a client goals dashboard. Each button you see around the client represents a goal, be it buying a property, providing private education for offspring, or funding a pension. The dashboard shows progress and allows for the creation of new goals, motivating and engaging the client, and, by encouraging continuous engagement, provides stickiness.
It was encouraging to see Topaz’s core values and proposition effectively promoted and validated at AdviceTech Live by industry experts. We think these can be useful, high-level rules to help wealth managers navigate the Advicetech space and ensure technology is the enabler it needs to be.