A client portal is an invaluable tool for collaborating with clients for more productive, long-term financial planning relationships. When implemented… Read More
The Value of a Robust Client Portal in Financial Planning Relationships
• Chris Mauriello • February 8, 2024
A client portal is a client’s connection to their financial plan. It’s the technology that keeps them engaged in between planning meetings. It lets clients get a unique view of their financial situation and explore their goals at their own pace. And now, research shows a client portal is an indispensable part of financial planning.
eMoney recently conducted research1 on the use of client portal technology in financial planning. We found that clients who use client portals see far greater planning outcomes, and we discovered clients’ most desired features and benefits of client portal usage.
Better Planning Outcomes with Client Portals for Advisors
In our research, eMoney found a group of “tech-forward” advisors that are using the client portal frequently with their clients. We also found a group of “tech-averse” advisors that are behind in terms of client portal technology adoption.
Maybe unsurprisingly, the clients of tech-forward advisors are reporting far greater trust, loyalty, and overall satisfaction, among many other positive outcomes. They are also referring their advisors 2x more frequently.
In addition to these broad outcomes, there are a number of specific benefits that clients realize from tech-forward advisors. Most notably, there’s a 36-point difference between tech-forward and tech-averse advisors in terms of their clients’ motivation to achieve their financial goals.
As you can see, using a client portal has a significant influence on the process of financial planning. Advisors who are using portals are going deeper with their clients, talking about both financial goals and all other aspects of their lives, staying in touch with clients, and ensuring their long-term interests are being served.
Client-reported Benefits and Most Desired Client Portal Features
Our data showed an interesting phenomenon in terms of the value of client portals: clients were actually reporting benefits at a higher rate than advisors. This suggests that advisors may want to encourage the adoption of this technology among their clients, as well as align portal usage with clients’ desired features.
Among the benefits clients see from their portals, time savings via automation and a holistic view of their finances are chief among them.
These benefits align closely with what clients report are the most important features of client portal technology. Advisors who want their clients to realize the above benefits should take note of what clients want to see in a client portal and align their usage of it accordingly.
Here’s what clients say are the most important features and how you can facilitate their use:
- All-in-one Account View (57%): Provide peace of mind by consolidating clients’ financial information in their portal—this is far and away clients’ most desired feature. They want the ability to do a quick financial checkup whenever they want. Be sure to utilize reliable account aggregation for accurate, up-to-date data.
- Time-saving Automation (39%): Simplify engagement by automating data gathering with robust account aggregation tools, ensuring quick, accurate, and consistent data retrieval. This will help automate one of the most manual, time-intensive parts of the planning process.
- Holistic Financial View (35%): Offer a comprehensive view beyond account details, connecting current plan progress with clients’ evolving goals, values, and motivations.
- Efficient Communication (35%): Use the portal as a direct communication channel between meetings. Tailor communication to clients’ understanding and ensure availability through various channels.
- Self-service Exploration (34%): Empower clients to check finances independently and find answers within the portal. Provide tools for self-education and staying connected to plan goals.
When these aspects are addressed, clients note increased collaboration and engagement, deepening their knowledge of personal finance and enhancing their relationship with their advisor through improved communication.
The Client Experience Is Evolving
The demand for tech-forward advisors has surged in the last four years, as depicted in the graph below comparing clients’ ideal attributes of financial advisors in 2019 and 2023.
Clients increasingly seek advisors who collaborate, utilize technology for communication, and adapt the use of technology to individual needs. Client portal technology is exactly the solution advisors need to address these pressing changes in client expectations.
Our research highlights that tech-forward advisors are keenly aware of this shift and actively enhancing their tech stack. A remarkable 87 percent of them plan to boost spending in the next 1-2 years, focusing on improving client satisfaction, retention, and engagement. Notably, tech-forward advisors also aim to increase AUM with existing clients and automate workflows, areas where tech-averse advisors show limited investment.
This data underscores the rapidly changing expectations clients have for their advisors. Staying abreast of these changes—as well as remaining competitive—involves investing in the right technology and ensuring its effective implementation.
Client Portals Facilitate a Tech-forward Planning Experience
The evolving landscape of financial advice demands a tech-forward approach. Clients now express a heightened preference for collaboration, personalized technology usage, and adaptability in their advisors.
The data supports the pivotal role of client portal technology in meeting these expectations. As the industry witnesses a surge in demand for tech-savvy advisors, investing in the right technology and its effective deployment emerges as the key to not only keeping pace but also exceeding client expectations in the dynamic world of financial planning.
If you want to learn more on this topic, read our eBook The New Value Proposition for Advisors: How Combining Technology and Psychology Transforms Client Outcomes. You’ll learn everything you need to know to become a tech-forward advisor, as well as actionable advice for becoming a FinPsych-forward advisor as well.
1. eMoney, “Beyond the Plan” Research, July 2023
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.
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