An advisor's personal relationship with clients -- traditionally one of the wealth management industry’s greatest strengths -- may now be a liability.

Wealth management is “significantly behind” other industries in adopting emerging mobile technology to interact with clients, according to Darrin Courtney, research director for Boston-based CEB TowerGroup.

Nearly a third of advisors lack access to new mobile technology, according to a new CEB analysis of Advisor Desktop Technology Solutions, despite the fact that 70% of advisors believe that mobile tools improve the quality of their advice for clients. What’s more, the study finds that many advisory firms are relying on outdated platforms, with 40% using solutions that are more than seven years old.

“Historically, the wealth side of the business thought of the personalized relationship between the client and the advisor as a value proposition,” Courtney says. “Clients do want a personal relationship, but our research showed that 85% of high-net-worth clients are willing to use mobile technology to interact with their advisor.”


Integration, cost and compliance issues are also paralyzing top executives at wealth management firms, the report finds. In addition to not committing to new technology, less than half have even determined what will be on devices such as tablets, according to Courtney.

Indeed, the results of the CEB survey were not far removed from Financial Planning’s own Tech Survey, published in December 2012. More than three-quarters of financial advisors said they dedicated less than 10% of their annual revenue to technology and technology training, and 20% of advisors said they still do not use a smartphone for business at all. 

Half of the advisors surveyed said they used a  tablet, and among those 81% own an iPad.


Courtney recommends that wealth management firms consider the following three tips for bringing their technology up to date.

  • Get help by partnering with vendors -- but “make sure they are clear about what exactly your firm’s needs are versus accepting an out-of-the-box solution,” Courtney says.
  • When designing a tablet solution, don’t simply recreate a full advisor desktop. Rather, provide only the elements that are most important to client-advisor interaction.
  • Get your advisors involved. Make sure they will use a new technology solution and that it will be of value to them and to the firm. 

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