5 tips to help advisers transform their business

Morningstar Chicago spoke to Brian Shenson, Vice President, Advisor Technology Solutions at Schwab Advisor Services on how advisers can leverage mobile technology to gain an edge.
By Morningstar |  23-03-17 | 

Mobile technology is everywhere. With each passing day, it’s becoming an increasingly vital business tool in the adviser world. And no wonder—advisers are discovering they can use mobile technologies to better serve their clients, promote their firm’s brand, increase accessibility, foster collaboration, and support the scalability of their businesses.

Whether clients are using smartphones or tablets to access account information, review portfolio holdings, conduct transactions, or simply to reach out for guidance, investors can now experience the convenience of anytime, anywhere access to their adviser.

To better understand how making the move to mobile can help an adviser, Morningstar Chicago spoke with Brian Shenson, Vice President, Advisor Technology Solutions at Schwab Advisor Services.

Tip #1: Older Investors Have an Affinity for Using Mobile Devices, Too

It’s no surprise that the latest findings by Pew Research confirm that younger generations (ages 30-49) are comfortable with mobile technology, to the point where nearly 75% of survey respondents use an iPhone®, Android phone, or other type of smartphone (not including tablets). These are the types of individuals who are today’s technology-oriented investor—the device-savvy clients who are expecting and demanding increased customization, collaboration, and accessibility from advisers through the use of mobile technology.

But what is surprising is that younger investors’ affinity for using mobile devices is shared by older investors (ages 50-64)—not to quite the same degree, according to the survey, but by a significant percentage: about 50%. By definition, investors in their retirement years have more free time to engage with mobile devices. And, based on investors’ feedback, a typical first experience with mobile might not have been driven by business or consumer services, but rather by checking Facebook to see their grandchildren’s pages. These types of experiences have created a comfort level with mobile technology in investor segments that would not have existed just a few years ago.

Tip #2: Investors Expect to Conduct Business on a Mobile Device

The mobile experience in the consumer world is now transforming what clients and investors expect from their financial services providers. For example, most financial institutions provide mobile applications so that customers can check balances on bank accounts, deposit funds, and pay bills. These fast and easy ways to conduct traditional banking and finance functions are leading consumers to expect the same level of convenience from all investment services.

Take the ultra-high-net-worth category, for example. Among ultra-high-net-worth investors, 93% use a mobile device to check their portfolio account balances and information. Polls of ultra-high-net-worth investors who do their own research on financial products show that 65% use mobile devices to conduct their research.

Tip #3: Mobile Technology Can Help Establish Your Digital Storefront

One of the most important things about mobile technology for advisers is how it can be used to differentiate their firms and strengthen brand awareness. Many of the latest mobile applications for advisers can be customized with their logo and company colors on each page, as well as with firm-specific information such as contact details, news about advisers, website links, and real-time data for clients on their holdings and account information.

Each time clients check their portfolios on mobile devices, they’ll see the adviser’s name and the firm’s brand on screen. They’re viewing a new digital storefront that’s open 24/7 in a customer-centric environment, a storefront that reinforces the adviser’s value and sets the firm apart from the competition.

Tip #4: Mobile Devices Help Make You More Accessible and Ready to Collaborate With Clients

Mobile capabilities make a firm more accessible. Clients can contact an adviser with questions or check out their latest investment results, wherever and whenever they choose. This increased accessibility brings a level of collaboration between clients and advisers that was not previously possible.

Mobile technologies now include client portals, document sharing, virtual meetings, and more—all based on a rapidly moving and collaborative model. Mobile capabilities are not replacing face-to-face meetings between advisers and clients. Rather, they support and reinforce these meetings, and become especially important when clients are based in geographically diverse locations or have limited time to meet.

Tip #5: Mobile Solutions Can Make Your Practice More Scalable

Increased accessibility and collaboration are essential to giving clients the on-demand, personalized experience they expect. With a mobile solution, an adviser can create hand-crafted, customized experiences for clients. For example, a client who’s standing in line waiting for a cup of coffee could use a mobile phone to get specific, detailed data on her portfolio, updated with the latest market results, presented in exactly the format she prefers—in seconds. This process can be replicated countless times for countless clients. This is one example of how advisers can deliver high-touch service to all clients without a lot of effort using mobile technology. Giving clients access to valuable information on their mobile devices allows advisers and their firms to better scale their businesses, while empowering clients with the types of experiences they have come to expect in other areas of their lives.

Advisers are putting mobile technology to use today by:

  • Giving new clients a tablet during the onboarding process, along with instructions for logging into their new account and for communicating with their adviser.
  • Holding meetings by connecting two tablets—one used by the adviser and one by the client—to give the client a presentation.
  • Using Apple TV to project materials from an iPad® to a TV in the office.
  • Replacing printed binders with a much richer, interactive experience, such as integrating video with quarterly presentations—telling a story in a way that’s more personal than through written commentary.
  • Focusing on their digital presence, such as participating in social media, to help investors find them.
  •  Using video chat to host virtual meetings.

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