Digital is personal: How tech enhances relationships

Key Points

  • "Robo-advisors" used to be feared. Now, robo technology is becoming an essential tool for advisors.

  • Technology is connecting advisors and clients in new ways, enhancing the value of their relationship.

  • Automated tech can also help advisors save time, freeing up time to better serve clients—and win prospects. 

Remember when the "robo-advisor" was supposed to take over the financial advice industry? It didn't happen, at least not in the way that experts predicted. That's because financial advice isn't only about picking investments. It's also about people. Personal relationships matter to clients. They should be able to talk to a real person to discuss their goals and what's going on in their lives that can affect their finances.  

"Robo" technology has been revolutionary. Many RIAs now use sophisticated portfolio management software to rebalance multiple portfolios, monitor accounts for trading triggers, and reconcile trades from the previous day in a few clicks. Automation is useful for communications and collecting signatures. And there are now many tools that allow RIA firms to complete important tasks without spending a lot of time, which means more time for the relationship. What we've learned over the last decade is that robo technology isn't replacing relationships. It's enhancing them.

Always in touch

A personal relationship means you're there when your clients need you. Being available for meetings and quick conversations sends a clear message that they're a priority and you want to stay connected with them.  

Digital tools give you more ways to be there for them. If a client calls your office when you're out of town, a voice over IP phone system (VoIP) enables you to take the call from your computer or have it forwarded to your cell. If a client wants to talk through options for their portfolio but can't come into the office, a video conferencing system such as Zoom, WebEx, or Microsoft Teams allows you to share a screen and make changes in front of them. It's as if your client is sitting shoulder to shoulder with you even when you may be thousands of miles away.

Older clients may still prefer in-person meetings over video, but according to a 2023 Cerulli study, 75% of advisors say offering video conferencing improves the client experience.1 The need for video conferencing and client comfort will only increase as more clients use it for school, work, and staying in touch with family. It's clear that video is here to stay.

75% of advisors say offering video conferencing improves the client experience. -Cerulli Associates, 2023

Brand value through transparency

A well-designed client portal can also help you serve clients better. How? It gives clients a chance to see their accounts, access information such as disclosures and reports, and complete simple tasks. Clients who have a strong sense of their overall financial picture can be better collaborators and can have more trust in how you're working in their best interest.

More time for clients

"All of our decisions about technology come down to one question. Are we giving our team more time to spend with our clients?" Says Matt Reiner, Managing Partner at Capital Investment Advisors.

Paper and manual processes are expensive—not only in staff salaries, but also in opportunity cost. What is your team not doing because they're shuffling paper?

Often, what gets lost is proactive client communication. Are clients making plans that will require a lot of cash? Are social issues changing how they look at their investments? If your firm is spending a lot of time creating reports, chasing signatures, or entering data, that's time when you're not thinking ahead about what clients need and initiating conversations that can make a difference in their lives.

Technology that automates tasks, moves data seamlessly between systems, and sends out required paperwork automatically can make you smarter and more in tune with your clients. That translates into stronger loyalty and relationships that can re beyond the ups and downs of markets.

Marketing for growth

A 2022 survey by SmartAsset found that 63% of advisors on their platform increased the use of lead generation technology over the previous year.2 Many of the top lead generation systems now use automation to move prospects from interested to invested.

Digital marketing allows advisors to target specific client segments with content that shows the value of working with an independent advisor. But marketing online requires planning, organization, and accountability. Using tools like Google Analytics can help you learn more about what's working on your website, email marketing, and social media platforms, including data and insights on what prospective clients are responding to and what's not gaining traction.

These technologies create a lot of data, but those numbers are the foundation of your relationships. The data is an opportunity to learn about the people who are interested in your firm and to find ways to draw them closer. The more you learn, the better you'll get at targeting the right prospects and clients. The key is to make the technology work for the relationship. 


What you can do next

If you're already working with Schwab, learn more about our robust technology solutions and digital tools:

  • Learn how our technology platform can help automate everyday tasks so you can focus on serving clients and scaling your business. 
  • Explore our range of integration solutions and digital tools to streamline your workday and increase efficiency. 

Consider a custodian that invests in your success. If you're thinking about becoming an independent advisor, contact us to learn more about the benefits of a custodial relationship with Schwab.


1. "The Challenges and Benefits of Wealth Management Technology," Cerulli Associates, 2023,

2. "Nearly 60% of Financial Advisors Are Doing More Client Outreach This Year – 2022 Study," SmartAsset, August 11, 2023,