What advisers really think about technology

This time last year if you asked a client for a meeting online they’d wonder what was up.

Now if you suggest a video call they’ll think you’re forward thinking and respectful of their safety. Yes, your children might crash the meeting, but the irony is, it could bring you closer together.

Clients love to see your vulnerable side, especially when they’re shielding relatives and worried about their health. It’s a reminder that we’re all in this together.

And yet research by Panacea Adviser* indicates that 62% of advisers aren’t making full use of technology. Whilst a staggering 47% are relying on old tried and tested methods of communication.

In fact, just 14% of advisers are making a concerted effort to adapt their way of working.

Resistance to change is dangerous at this time. As markets fluctuate and clients worry about the fall of their hard earned savings and investments, it’s vital that advisers adapt to the ‘new normal’ and stay connected.

That means catching up face-to-face through a screen, be it a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Every device has easy access to a suite of free apps and tools. And even though getting the hang of them is probably dependent on a few lessons from your offspring, it’s a conversation worth having.

A new generation of younger investors

Right now 15% of advisers say the biggest impact of Covid-19 is lack of face to face meetings, so now is the perfect time to shift some of your meetings online.

According to our research, 75% of advisers want to use tech to help existing clients, and 66% see it as a way of attracting new clients**.

Meanwhile, in Panacea Adviser’s research 36% said a major impact of Covid-19 was lack of new business & transactional business.

The only thing that stands in the way are concerns about trust. The belief being that clients need to read your body language to feel comfortable. 

Of course there’s a great deal of truth in that. But it’s worth remembering that the next generation of investors will invariably be younger. For them technology isn’t a barrier, it’s an enabler.

Developing new business

One of the advisers in the survey readily admitted, “I have so much potential in my existing client base, this could be my focus.” They hit the nail on the head.

The possibilities to grow your business, despite social distancing, haven’t evaporated overnight.  Research conducted by Nielson found that people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend***.

So how do you open clients up to a referral? The honest answer is excellent customer service. Right now, many clients are sat at home without many of the usual distractions. If they’re impressed by your ability to go above and beyond with a video call, why not encourage them to share their opinions on social media. Or ask if you can use testimonials from them on your website or on your LinkedIn profile.

Boosting productivity

While you’re familiarising yourself with the challenges of video conferencing, it’s also worth looking at practice management systems.

They can ensure you keep in frequent contact with a large number of clients without losing the personal touch. You simply decide how you want to balance automated messaging with more personalised reminders. And you can use them to take on some of the tasks that can eat up your time – such as data analysis - while you do what you do best.

Anecdotal evidence shows that older advisers can be reluctant to invest in these kinds of systems, relying instead on spreadsheets, especially if they’re a few years from retirement. But it’s a false economy.

Potential buyers will pay more if they can see clear evidence of recurring income through a recognised industry system.

Just remember to factor the cost of training into your decision process.

More ways to save time

Transcription apps can also save you a great deal of time, though do spell check them afterwards. They’re not famed for their ability to pick up on English idioms and accents.

You can even buy a touchscreen tablet and write with a pen instead. The software converts your scribbles into type. The range of new easy-to-use devices is extraordinary, some of which come in under £100.

Short term pain, long term gain

Of course all this adoption of new tech will involve a certain amount of faffing to start, but once you’re up and running you can use it to free up time for the things that matter to you the most, whether that’s market analysis, new business or face-to-face meetings as we ease out of lockdown.

According to Aviva data published before the lockdown, more than four million UK workers were already ditching the daily commute in favour of working from home. This is equivalent to one in seven UK workers****. This is likely to rise as we evolve into a new normal.

And let’s not forget the time and money you can save by not travelling to and from the office. Until a vaccine is developed, management will have to rethink the model for office with colleagues as well as clients.

People will no longer be rewarded for just turning up, or staying late. It could herald a new meritocracy based on results.

Companies will need to get a lot better at organisation. Structuring meetings with agendas, aims and objectives agreed in advance.

Meetings for the sake of meetings could be a thing of the past.  Imagine that.


*Panacea Adviser Covid-19 survey, April 2020.

**Aviva Adviser Insight Report, Cicero, May 2018