Use technology to enhance your client experience

Key Points

  • While the advisor business is still a relationship business, relationships aren't only built and maintained in person—technology also plays a role.

  • Savvy use of technology and digital tools can streamline your practice, while also helping you and your clients stay connected.

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

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 gatherings, clients are most likely to interact with your firm via technology—communications, your website, what you post on social media. 

Are you maximizing these opportunities to stay connected with your clients and deepen your relationships? Here are a few ways technology can complement your personal touch.

Impress clients with digital onboarding 

The onboarding process is a client's first real experience working with your firm and a great chance to show you're there for them. Digital onboarding lets clients skip the slow, paper-intensive processes of the past, so they can begin working with their advisors as quickly as possible. 

Digital onboarding also helps you gather a wealth of data about clients that can give you a feel for complex needs and new opportunities. 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 often falls short of expectations. 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 types of clients.

CRM systems can help you 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. While, the more mature 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 married couples with young children 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 relevant to them.

Gamify the planning process 

Gamification means using game-design elements to help motivate people to complete assignments or accomplishing specific goals. For clients, gamification can simplify 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. 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 increasingly 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 integrate with their practice technology platforms.

Connection comes first 

The right technology can help clients feel more connected to your firm and engaged in the financial planning process in between in-person meetings. No technology can never replace the personal touch you provide, but using tools to understand your clients better, and showing them that you're bringing the best available resources to the table, can strengthen relationships and your RIA firm.

What you can do next

  • If you custody with Schwab:
  • 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.