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Can Technology Make Client Conversations More Human?
• Celeste Revelli • December 15, 2021
Technology has given people more ways to connect than ever before. In the financial services industry, it improves the customer experience and facilitates stronger relationships. While the adoption and comfort level in using technology varies across generations, there are steps financial professionals can take to leverage its value to enhance client engagement.
While clients and financial professionals alike are embracing technology, those in younger groups—Millennial and Gen Z—believe it contributes to their successes as an investor at a rate of 80 percent, and 76 percent of financial professionals in the same demographics said it makes their job easier.1
So, how can firms use technology to provide the personalized, human attention clients of all ages have come to expect? The key is with the tools, training, and techniques they use.
Technology as a Benefit to Financial Planning
With the amount of uncertainty we’re currently experiencing in the world, technology has been a crucial tool for many companies, and financial services is no exception. When face-to-face interactions and in-office meetings were no longer possible, 76 percent of financial professionals said technology helped them adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic and 69 percent said it provided a consistent and repeatable experience for clients.1
Clients also see it as a benefit, particularly in how they meet and connect with their financial professionals—71 percent of clients said technology allows their financial advisor to be authentic and connect on a more personal level, and 65 percent said it allows them to connect with their financial team in ways they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.1
But the love of technology by both clients and financial professionals can begin to break down when you start to look at different demographics. Baby Boomer clients preferred using more basic forms of technology for communication, such as phone calls and email, while Millennials would rather communicate through financial planning platforms or financial wellness applications. And on the financial professional side, only 66 percent of Baby Boomers said technology contributes to their success as advisors while 82 percent of Millennials said the same.1
The disconnect can be traced back to the amount of resistance these generations experience with technology. A smaller percentage of Millennials (31 percent) said technology was a huge investment of time for them to learn, while 50 percent of Baby Boomers said the same. Additionally, the majority of Millennial financial professionals (79 percent) said technology saves them time so they can focus on what is most important to them as an advisor, but only 64 percent of Baby Boomers felt the same way.1
What we’re seeing are two different experiences with technology depending on the age—something firms need to be prepared to handle from both the client and employee perspective if they want technology to be a benefit to their business.
Remaining Human in a Technology-Driven World
Successful firms seem to take two different approaches to technology. One group centers its processes around technology and views it as a major contributor to team member success and client satisfaction, while the other uses technology as a supplemental tool to aid in success.1 While both approaches can facilitate authentic connections between clients and financial professionals, the “right” approach to technology depends on the demographic makeup of those within the firm.
In the current times, firms that aim to attract Millennial or Gen Z financial professionals and clients can succeed with a tech-centric approach, just as firms focused primarily on attracting older generations can maintain operations without implementing the latest technology. But both groups may struggle to appeal to different generations and find that some clients or financial professionals feel unfulfilled.
Even now, however, the firms that see the highest success and rates of fulfillment with both clients and team members find balance in how they use technology and human interaction. By using technology as a means to support financial wellness initiatives, provide easily accessible resources to clients, and make communication easy through multiple touchpoints, these firms are able to provide a personalized experience that allows all parties to get the support and attention they need.
Using Technology to Bridge the Gap
Even though a technology divide between generations exists, you can help clients of any age become more comfortable with it by using it in support of your holistic financial planning practice. It’s the best way to provide clients with consistently up-to-date information about how their plans are progressing.
In my experience, when clients see a complete view of their accounts and financial plans in one place, it’s an eye-opening experience. The use of technology within the planning process to aggregate clients’ financial data helps them visualize their situation and sets up financial professionals to take the planning to the next level.
This ah-ha moment with clients is something that can happen no matter what their age, degree of technical savvy, or level of wealth. With technology, the financial professional can focus on the human connection, digging deeper into their reactions and prioritization of different goals. As your relationship with your clients deepens, your services become more valuable to them.
Technology can help employers remove the barriers their employees face when managing their financial goals—from savings to retirement. It can also help retirement advisors address knowledge gaps and give employees the support they need to feel financially empowered. For more on the ways technology can provide support for the financial wellness journey, watch our on-demand webinar, Using Technology to Boost Financial Empowerment in the Workplace.
DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.
1 eMoney Planning with Purpose Research, July 2021, Advisors n=393, End clients n=391
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