Adviser Technology : What decade are we in?

Posted Mar 8, 2013 | ~4 minute read

I've just read a comment in the latest edition of @ftadviser that made me stop and double-check what decade we're in. I've taken a picture for those who've not got access to the publication :



Hang on, Powerpoint? Office? Links to Newsletters?

The first thing I would like to say is that I am in no way whatsoever having a dig at any particular adviser, but instead just giving my thoughts on technology usage in general within the industry.

Now the disclaimer is out of the way, let's get to the crux of the matter.

Everyone's survived the certain black-death that was RDR, and this year more so than normal should be about reinventing what it is to receive or provide financial advice. Where last year and years gone by were the equivalent of digestive biscuits, this year & the years going forward should be chocolate caramel covered hobnobs.

I'm going to go all out and guess that practically every adviser uses Powerpoint, or Microsoft Office tools to "present" to their clients. It's not revolutionary any more. It doesn't do anything to set you apart from your competitors so you might as well be providing a list of the other local advisory businesses whilst you're at it.

RDR was about making firms compete like proper businesses. Competing on service, price and other metrics like other businesses do. Part of that journey is finding ways to stick out above the competition. I'm going to say it again, for clarity's sake; Powerpoint and MS Office isn't revolutionary.

The article that surrounding the comment I've pictured was discussing the use of technology with high-net worth clients using wonderfully simple percentages and surprise surprise the figures don't look pretty.

40% of 3477 clients were satisfied with how advisers used technology.

That's painting it in a pretty light, let's try this.

60% of your clients are less than satisfied in how you use technology with them.

Wow, 60%. What happens when you become un happy with your telephone supplier or utility provider? Do you sit there and continue to take the poor service, lack of customer loyalty, high prices and poor internet performance for the rest of your life? No? So what do you think your clients would do?

Now I'm just going to jump in here and say that I don't think it's the fault of the average adviser. In fact, I'm going to suggest that it's perhaps the lack of innovation and affordable technology available or marketed to the average adviser. Sure, there's systems out there that do this, that and all the rest, but unless the adviser knows they exist, how can they improve their game?

Technology is huge in other industries and the financial services profession is several years (if not decades) behind the bleeding edge. I appreciate a lot of this is due to regulation, but there's still plenty of options out there to innovate and pull ahead of your competitors.

Advisers shouldn't necessarily be looking at the larger technology providers to supply the next best thing as quite frankly, innovation isn't as important to them any more. They're not as "grass-roots" as they used to be and they can't innovate so quick. I'm all for the romantic thought that advisers could work together to drive the innovation that they want and need. As if by magic, a discussion was started yesterday on Twitter about designing and developing a back-office system from scratch, based on the *actual* wants and needs of advisory firms. Imagine that!

By the end of 2014, using Powerpoint simply won't be enough. It's time to do something about it.