It seems everywhere advisors turn these days, it’s “digital this and digital that.” With the sometimes confusing mash-up of bits and bytes and constant technological innovation, it’s critical that advisors know when and where to jump into the digital fray.
If you are an advisor who has anxiety over what is taking place with technology in the industry and the impact it will have on your business, that's actually good news. It means you're paying attention to the forces that are driving the future of our business.
Now the question is: How will you leverage that technology to help your business thrive in 2016?
Digital is the foundation of how we will be running our practices and interacting with clients now – and in the future. Its influence extends far beyond automated asset allocation or any robo advisor that is out there.
I would venture to guess the majority of advisors leverage digital in their practices, whether it’s smartphones, email, performance reporting or marketing. Digital is much bigger than simply automated investing and it is critical to think about it in a broader sense than what has mostly been written and talked about in recent years.
The focus on digital has created some hand-wringing and concern in our industry, and for good reason.
Adopting new technology can be intimidating, time-consuming and expensive. Advisors, in particular, tend to be leery of these types of changes. When was the last time you upgraded your CRM system or your website? Did you know most marketing professionals would recommend upgrading and enhancing your website every couple of years? And even though research has shown many website visitors spend more time watching videos than anything else, most advisors do not have a single video on their website.
Wealth management is at an inflection point. In general, advisors are a little behind the curve when it comes to technology. Over the last several years, vendors in our industry have made massive technological enhancements to their products, but advisors have not kept up or made it a focus.
Understandably, this has created concern with some advisors. They were behind in technology adoption as is. It’s like being behind in Spanish class in high school and now you’re living in Mexico.Estoy confundido.
Technology will play a critical role in advisory practices going forward. It has to. Wealth management is no different than any other aspect of our lives. We live in a technology-driven world. Without effectively leveraging technology, you will not be able to meet the demands your clients expect.
GET AHEAD OF THE PUCK
When thinking of competition in the realm of technology, it is helpful to think more in terms of the overall consumer landscape instead of just the wealth management realm. The experience standard has been raised by companies like Amazon and Apple and consumers have come to expect everything right away and on their own terms.
Thus far, our industry has been given some latitude to be late adopters in most areas of the digital client experience, but it won’t remain that way for long. As Wayne Gretzky said about skating to where the puck is headed rather than where it is, it is important to think about the delivery of advice in those terms. Frankly, the puck is already here and those that want to compete will need to get in the game.
At Mariner Wealth Advisors, we know technological advancements will help us provide an enhanced client experience, and ensure our advisors have the resources they need to provide clients with the best advice possible, in a manner in which they want to receive it.
Like you, we are living these decisions daily and in this series of articles for Re: Invent|Wealth, I will share what are seeing in the space as it has evolved very rapidly over the last few years. My goal is to share with you ways in which we have embraced technology and how it has made us more efficient. I will also share some of the challenges we have overcome, as well as those we continue to confront.
You see, we haven’t figured out what an advisor’s digital toolbox will look like 10 years from now. No one has. But we have a good understanding of today’s current landscape. And looking at our crystal ball, one thing is for certain: Digital is sure to dominate our future as an industry.
Technology, like anything else, could be your greatest enemy or your biggest business partner; it’s your choice. Through this series of articles, it’s my goal to make adopting technology an easier decision for you and your firm.
Brian Leitner is senior vice president of practice management at Mariner Wealth Advisors.
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