It's easy for big wealth management firms to say they can recreate the Amazon experience for their clients. Not so easy, though, for a small independent firm.
But Earl Jefferson, founder of 7th Harvest Investments, says he has been able to provide his clients a more interactive experience just by simplifying day-to-day operations.
Jefferson, based in Richardson, Texas, says the emergence of new communication expectations from a growing, tech savvy client base is the greatest challenge his firm now faces.
Response expectations among clients have evolved so that every email and or text message is viewed almost instantaneously and as result, expected time frames for responses are shorter, he says.
Jefferson shared his experiences with ReinventWealth as part of our ongoing conversation with financial advisers about technology.
What technology do you use and what does it do?
Believe it or not, the single most favorite new tool we’ve implemented within the past year is a shared drive. We had a shared server before, and were able to do some things in the previous environment, but with a web-based shared drive and full integration, accessing files and being able to modify them from the whole team’s standpoint has been great. It saves us a lot of time as well.
How does technology improve the quality of what you do?
We are very much a profits-driven practice and big believers in workflows, so for simple things like onboarding a new client, there is a process and key documents involved in that process. It’s a lot easier for any member of our team, regardless of where they are, to access critical documents and facilitate the workflow.
What does the concept of ‘real-time’ interaction mean to you?
Overall, it’s fairly important for the practice. The quality of our service is judged by how responsive we are, and if we can improve our response time in any shape, form, or fashion, it improves the quality of the client experience. It enables us to get to the next task a lot smoother. If done efficiently, it allows the client to develop a perception of us that is very professional, attentive and sensitive to other time commitments.
How does it shape the quality of your client interaction?
When we have clients that are not around corner from us, or in another state, there’s no opportunity to golf together or to take them to dinner. The only thing we have to lean on is the quality of service that we provide them. Technology allows us to do that in a big way. It’s easy to be polite on the phone, but technology is what we have to rely on to keep response levels high and to deliver the professional perception and experience we want them to have.
What is one area you would like to see improve?
Over the last three or four years, technology has caught up so much, and although I think the work is still challenging in terms of managing client expectations and markets and so forth, from a practical daily execution, my life has gotten a lot better.
I’m not going to complain that much, but I’d love to see a platform that provides an easier way to deliver greater security confidence. There ought to be a uniform way for all providers, not just custodians, but from all providers, to deliver better security confidence of client information. That would be something that we could piggyback on as advisers, as opposed to having a disjointed approach that doesn’t seem to be really exude a lot of confidence in the eyes and impression of our clients.