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Digital Empowerment: How Firms Are Maximizing Client Engagement

Chad Porche June 25, 2024

maximize client engagement

A recent study of digitally empowered financial services firms reveals surprising insights. It surfaced the fact that innovators, ranging from banks to registered investment advisors, share a core principle: a relentless focus on client engagement. These firms leverage technology three times more effectively than their peers to craft exceptional client experiences.1

They’re also twice as likely to prefer using many best-in-class platforms, especially when it comes to financial planning.1 Around 66 percent of firms classified as “Innovators” say financial planning tech delivers the highest return on investment of all the tools in their tech stack.2 This “mosaic” approach depends on effective integration.

The study defines a “digitally empowered” firm as one that:

1.      Has a strategy for technology that supports its business goals.

2.      Has designed a seamless tech ecosystem with best-in-class tools to enhance the advisor and client experience.

3.      Has a plan for activation, helping staff make optimal use of technology as it evolves.

Here are three stories of digitally empowered firms that are seeing success through the application of this framework.

A $5.1 Billion RIA

Robertson Stephens, a wealth management firm serving entrepreneurs, executives, family offices, and institutions, has built an end-to-end technology stack for its advisors one piece at a time. This $5.1 billion AUM RIA with more than 90 employees fits the mold of a digitally empowered firm, using multiple best-in-class platforms and investing in integrations.

“We do integrations where it makes the most sense,” Chief Operating Officer and Principal Vikram Chugh told WealthManagement.com.3 “We’ve given thought to the advisor’s workflow. We’ve put the advisor in the center of our entire tech stack.”

Having systems that play well together is key. Digitally empowered firms are 1.6 times more likely to say their core tech platforms are seamlessly integrated.1 The vast majority (9 out of 10) tech decision-makers agree that “integration of platform technologies is very important to the firm’s overall tech strategy.”1

The firm also hangs its hat on the comprehensive and holistic nature of its wealth planning. In its selected financial planning platform, “you can also capture information across the board on a client, including their insurance and trusts and estate planning,” Chugh said. “We also like the cash flow modeling capabilities.” See all of the pieces of their advisor tech stack here.

A $16.5 Billion Wealth Management Firm

Blue Trust, a wealth management firm providing fee-based financial planning, investment management, and estate and trust services, has a unique approach to planning driven by stewardship. That means an emphasis on charitable giving as well as aligning values with resources through detailed cash-flow planning.

Initially, the firm relied on a proprietary financial planning tool for this. However, in 2015 they began using a leading planning platform to gain additional features, including the ability to model “what if” scenarios live for clients.

This new planning platform continues to boost efficiency and client engagement through continuous updates, including new solvers that make use of machine learning.

“Our financial planners talk about how efficient and quick the platform is,” says Nolan McClure, CFP®, CKA®, Manager of Blue Trust’s Financial Planning Department. “Advisors in our Professional Athlete Division, in particular, said ‘This is really quick. It’s scalable. It’s attractive to clients.’”

The ability to quickly incorporate new tech features is a hallmark of a digitally empowered firm. These firms are 4.5 times more likely to immediately implement a feature.1 Learn more about the Blue Trust’s tech in this case study.

A $2.7 Billion Bank-based Wealth Planning Division

SouthState Wealth, a division of SouthState Bank, offers fee-based financial planning and investment management. Its wealth planning team provides a vital value-added service for an institution with more than a million customers throughout the Southeast.

Donna Murray, Director of Financial Planning for SouthState Wealth, knows the key role technology can play in delivering holistic advice. Account aggregation through a client portal, which allows clients to see the big picture of their financial life, is a particular focus.

“We demoed [our client portal] to this huge client, and he said, ‘People have shown me stuff like this before, but they can’t ever get my accounts linked,’” Murray said. “I convinced him to try it, and all three of his connections linked. He was so amazed.” Learn more about SouthState Wealth’s technology-enabled approach in this case study.

Providing access to a client portal is another calling card of a digitally empowered firm: They’re 1.4 times more likely to give clients access to a secure online platform to organize finances.

The Power of Technology

These three examples underscore the power of technology in the financial services industry. Digitally empowered firms today are leveraging best-in-class platforms to enhance efficiency, deepen client engagement, and deliver a superior client experience.

As the research indicates, firms that prioritize seamless integration and rapid adoption of new tech features are better positioned to meet the evolving needs of their clients. By investing in advanced financial planning tools and secure client portals, these firms not only improve efficiency but also build stronger, more transparent relationships with their clients.

Taking Tech to the Next Level

What’s next after digital empowerment? Industry experts have deemed this the “beyond the plan” era, with technology, financial psychology, and personalized service helping advisors enhance their value.

Explore our eBook, Unlocking the Value of Financial Planning, to learn more about how to combine these to create a compelling value proposition.

Sources:

1. Fidelity. “Best Practices in Wealth Management Technology Can Drive Firm Success,” May 2024.

2. WealthStack and Wealth Management IQ. “2023 WealthStack Study,” November 2023.

3. WealthManagement.com. “Robertson Stephens: Building An Integrated Stack One Piece At A Time,” March 2024.

 

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.

Image of Chad Porche
About the Author

As the Senior Vice President of Product Management at eMoney, Chad Porche has played a pivotal role in driving innovation and enhancements to the company's flagship planning products over the past 14 years. He currently oversees product management and design functions, guiding a talented team with a relentless focus on customer satisfaction and development of industry-leading solutions.

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