Leveraging the right technology is essential for financial advisers


Technology is becoming increasingly essential for financial advisers, and it’s also changing the way they work, says Dave Upton, Managing Director of Focus Solutions.

New technology tools offer ways to speed up previously laborious processes — and engage clients who are used to using technology in their daily lives. It also means that it can be easier to sign clients up, with cashflow modelling software on tablets offering an instant, easily understood illustration of the benefit of a service.

Technology dramatically shortens the amount of time it takes to deliver advice, thus allowing advisers to deliver an increased level of service, at a similar price.

Upton says, ‘Technology has become more central to the adviser’s job, post-RDR (Retail Distribution Review). Companies have moved to more service-based models and advice organisations have been refining that service proposition. This switch has actually made it easier to engage with clients, most of whom now use technology intensely in both their work and home lives.’

He continues. ‘The smartphone era has meant that technology has developed at a massive rate. It’s become normal for almost everybody to use technology to do most of their work. In the engagement arena, this means it’s very effective to engage clients with services such as document sharing, co-browsing and a secure client portal.

‘Advisers can use technology to offer an increased level of service.’

Even the idea of self-service is nothing to be afraid of for advisers, says Upton. Instead, self-service tools can often help clients realise they need the services of an adviser.

‘Self-service fact finds can help clients work out that they need an adviser with the right skill set,’ says Upton. It also saves a great deal of time.

‘The first 40 minutes of a client meeting used to be hand-capturing that fact-find data,’ Upton explains. ‘Then advisers would re-key the data.’

Speeding up the delivery of advice makes it easier to sign up clients, Upton says.

‘In the past, perhaps they wouldn’t have signed up quite so easily, because they didn’t understand the benefit of the advice.’

Co-browsing plans also means it can dramatically shorten the amount of time it takes to deliver advice, says Upton — which in turn delivers a better client experience.

‘Advisers are trying to engage generally busy people,’ says Upton. ‘It’s a nightmare trying to get in people’s diaries, when you need to go out and physically see them two or three times for an hour or more.

Co-browsing and being able to do things online shortens the amount of elapsed time to deliver a complete piece of advice. It delivers a more efficient client experience, which in turn justifies the fees.’

Cashflow modelling software has made it easier to highlight the benefits of choosing products, says Upton — and is such an effective tool with clients that it’s basically ‘become an essential’.

Upton says, ‘Previously cashflow modelling was back-office based, and highly complex to use. Now we can use it in front of the client. That’s why it’s become an essential in high-value advice events (not someone who just wants to buy an ISA at the end of a tax year). But with events like pension transfers and retirement planning, cashflow modelling has become more and more central.’