Technology to make clients love your practice

Four ways technology can help ensure a top-notch client experience

Key Points

  • Whether through marketing materials, account platforms, or your website, all the ways clients interact with your firm make a big impression.

  • Savvy use of technology, such as digital onboarding and segmentation, streamlines your practice, helping your clients feel connected to the value you provide.

  • Gamification and on-demand services keep clients engaged and motivated to hit their financial goals.

While personal relationships are the heart of the advisor-client experience, you may only meet with clients face-to-face a few times a year. In between those meetings, clients interact with your practice much more frequently through marketing, communications, your website, and other digital channels. As a result, you should make these parts of their experience as enjoyable and rewarding for them as a meeting with you. 

Here's a look at how technology can help enhance your clients' experiences and complement your personal touch. 

Impress clients with digital onboarding 

The onboarding process is a client's first real experience working with your firm. Do it well, and you set a great tone. Digital onboarding lets clients skip the slow, paper-intensive processes of the past, so they can begin working closely with their advisors as quickly as possible. 

Digital onboarding also helps you gather a wealth of data about clients, so you get a feel for their needs quickly and can spot the best opportunities for them from the start. It can also provide identity verification to help ensure compliance with know your customer (KYC) regulations.

Make sure your onboarding process gathers detailed information such as goals, time horizon, risk tolerance, current employment, income, total liquid assets, and liabilities. You may also want to gather information that can help you segment later, such as communication preferences. Armed with this information, you can jump right into focused conversations and present customized solutions to help your clients accomplish their objectives. 

Segment to give clients what they want, how they want it

A one-size-fits-all approach to client interactions delivers mixed experiences at best. Likewise, marketing campaigns and regular communications that work for some may fall flat for others. Segmenting your client base can help you customize your outreach to resonate with different personalities. 

CRM (customer relationship management) software can help categorize clients based on shared characteristics, such as preferences, demographics, or behavior. Once you've developed these client categories, you can determine how to best communicate with each group. For example, younger clients might prefer communication via text messages and be fully onboard with video meetings. Older generations might expect phone calls and in-person meetings. 

Segmenting can also help shape websites and other digital experiences to ensure each group finds information that's relevant to them. For example, you might create dedicated web pages for specific client groups, such as young married couples looking to purchase a second home or executives who need to plan for non-salary compensation. By segmenting your clients and knowing their needs, you can better allocate time and resources to developing content that's most relevant to them. 

Gamify the planning process 

While finances aren't a game, gamification refers to game-design elements that help motivate people to achieve certain goals. For clients, gamification can simplify complicated tasks, reward them for achieving milestones, and make the planning experience more interactive. 

Gamification doesn't need to be elaborate. Even simple graphics like progress bars showing clients how close they are to achieving a goal can help motivate them. Interactive elements, such as financial tools with sliders that allow clients to shift their planning assumptions, can help clients become more engaged with tasks such as goal setting. 

Consider taking advantage of third-party financial tools that already use gamification as part of their design. For example, budgeting apps help individuals keep track of their spending and often allow users to celebrate small, short-term goals that keep the budgeting process fun. Clients can also share data collected by the app with you, helping you make suggestions or spot ways to refine their financial plan.  

Provide on-demand access to information

People are accustomed to the on-demand nature of shopping, entertainment, and other services—and they are growing to expect the same from their financial advisors. You don't have to be on call 24/7, but you can provide anytime access to updated portfolio data and financial plans. 

Tools like mobile apps or personalized account dashboards can help clients check on their investments at their convenience or easily submit questions or other requests after regular business hours. While some large firms may build their own client portals, smaller firms can get similar results using third-party financial apps and planning software that integrates with their practice technology platforms. 

The right technology can help clients feel more connected to your firm and engaged in the financial planning process in between those all-important personal meetings. Building those strong relationships is the key to keeping customers happy and on track for their most important goals. 

What you can do next

  • Discover how Schwab's technology offerings can help your practice deliver exceptional service with less effort. 
  • Check out Schwab Alliance, the online and mobile platform designed exclusively for clients of independent advisors.
  • 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 Schwab custodial relationship.