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Stop focusing on the numbers: Q&A with In|Vest speaker Kraleigh Woodford of UBS

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What’s the next big step forward in advisor technology?

Anything that makes the digital channel feel more human; that may be changing the way we communicate through our apps with video or chat capabilities. Perhaps it will customize the experience [such as] being able to say to a client, “Other clients like you have purchased these products, here is are interesting articles you might enjoy.” It’s about creating a customer of one.

The need for a better mobile presence is particularly important. It’s something we’ve been hearing from clients and have seen in the data. We tracked how many clients were logging onto our portal via an iPad and it was more than 20%. So we knew we had a gap there and started creating something that was designed specifically for a tablet. Mobile is certainly an area of focus.

What are some of the latest capabilities advisors are using?

With AI, technology can now pick content specifically related to the things clients have told us are most important to them — like socially responsible investing or philanthropy. We are actually able to place content throughout that speaks to the client experience. If a client happens to set a milestone for an education goal for one of their children, the technology can provide insights and information about education planning. It’s another key area of focus.

What is most important in a client portal?

At the end of the day, the experience has to feel human. It’s about having the right look and feel and using the right language. The right imagery. All of those considerations are an extremely important trend. It’s about the impression that we are leaving with the user. Another important piece is about sharing. We know the most impactful moment between an advisor and client is when they are sharing information back and forth with each other. The experience is really focused on facilitating that sharing of information in moments that make sense. From a client standpoint, it makes it easier to share things like important milestones about relationships that matter. From a technical standpoint, all the information being shared with the advisor is being looped in so the advisor is aware of that client information.

Will FAANGs enter the wealth management industry?

We look at what we can learn from an Amazon or Facebook. What are the things that are clients are experiencing elsewhere that will change or shape their expectations they have when engaging with us — even a Netflix.

Consumers are becoming more and more accustomed to a customized experience that is based on their profile. It’s hard to predict who’s going to do what and none of us are surprised by anything anymore. Our challenge is to make sure we’re not limiting what we’re trying to do. We have to look outside of financial services because that is what is shaping the client experience.

What’s holding back innovation?

Historically, the financial services industry has been more focused on the numbers versus the actual experience, and there have been a number of different components as to why. Now, we have to actually look and apply lessons learned or interesting innovation that we are seeing outside of this space.

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