Advice / Advisers / Technology

Delivering an exceptional advice experience in a COVID-19 world

Our world during the COVID-19 pandemic is full of uncertainty, the situation rapidly changing and developing. We saw early signs of recovery in Australia as restrictions began easing in July; however, outbreaks in Victoria and more recently in NSW have given everyone a stark reminder that this is far from over. Working from home and social distancing are the new normal, as least for the time being. 

As a result of the financial impact of the crisis only around four in 10 (42.3 per cent) Australians said they felt financially secure back in early May, according to CoreData’s COVID-19 Pulse Check Survey of nearly 4000 Australians. 

We know that people who take up financial advice are left feeling more financially secure and more confident about their financial situation. Seeking financial advice has traditionally been a face-to-face process. But with in-person meetings likely to be less prevalent, at least for now, financial advisers need to find other ways to maintain client relationships and communications. The most successful and technologically apt advisers were set up even before the pandemic broke out to accommodate a world centred around digital communication.

It’s not just about the most tech

But while technology for these businesses is a facilitator, it’s not just about having the most tech; it is about implementing technology in a planned and logical way to support and complement the business of delivering advice to deliver services to an exceptional quality.

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Netwealth AdviceTech 2020 Report

Netwealth’s AdviceTech 2020 Research Report surveyed more than 300 advice firms and identified five advice practice segments, based on business success and uptake of technology. It classified the top group of advice practices as AdviceTech Stars – role models in the industry for their use of technology to deliver high client satisfaction and business success.  

These firms recognise that when a financial advice firm sets out to create an exceptional digital or online experience for its clients, its clients won’t judge the experience against what other advice firms offer. It’s more likely they’ll judge it against their interactions with digital services they use every day, and these can include tech giants such as Netflix, Google and Amazon.

A good client portal is the start

The Netwealth AdviceTech report, produced by Netwealth in collaboration with CoreData, shows that a client portal is often the opening to an exceptional digital advice experience for clients. A well-structured and properly utilised portal offers planning and monitoring tools for clients, enables digital client consent, facilitates two-way communication, allows clients to easily manage their details and documents, and allows advisers to deliver material such as investment education and insights into economic news.

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All (100.0 per cent) AdviceTech Stars are currently use cloud-hosted document/file storage and sharing technology, 96.4 per cent use CRM systems while 89.3 per cent use cloud-hosted email or internal communication service, critical supporting backend technologies required to deliver a top-quality experience.

Communication is key to a strong client relationship, and the with the work-from-home effort, video conferencing has become commonplace. But leading advice practices don’t just use what’s common; they spend a lot of time and effort making themselves approachable through many forms of technology. Contact with the client when and how the client wants it is key to providing that ease and convenient experience.

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Email and phone calls remain the standard forms of communication (used by 95.7 per cent and 85.2 per cent respectively). The next most popular forms of communication include SMS texts (51.6 per cent), video conferencing (42.8 per cent), social media (33.2 per cent) followed by online voice calls (23.4 per cent). 

Using technology wisely and efficiently is not only about getting through a crisis. It has clear business-as-usual benefits that pay back a firm regardless of the external situation. 

AdviceTech Stars, who were well positioned before COVID-19 changed the world, were already experiencing larger gains than the rest of the industry in 11 of the 15 clear benefits of technology identified in the Netwealth report.

AdviceTech Stars reported improved efficiency (78.3 per cent), client engagement and communication (71.4 per cent) improved profitability (71.4 per cent). The benefits of advicetech are real, and they are lasting.

The Netwealth AdviceTech 2020 Research Report was published by Netwealth, in collaboration with CoreData Research.

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