Wealthy clients expect more from their advisors’ technology, especially when it comes to planning and decision-making.

According to SEI’s Futurewealthy report, respondents were generally pleased with advisors’ use of technology in handling their investments, less thrilled with the role technology plays in the process of making investment decisions.

“Investors can find their account balances anywhere,” said Kevin Crowe, head of solutions for SEI Advisor Network. “We found they want their advisors’ technology to help identify clients’ goals, create plans, and show what progress is being made towards meeting those goals.”

In this series of reports, the Futurewealthy investors had average assets of $1.9 million and expectations of accumulating still more. Of the total group, three subgroups were identified: those from the Americas, from Europe, and from the Asia Pacific region. The Americas region was the most upbeat about advisors’ technology, but there was still ample room for improvement.

When asked whether their financial provider delivered appropriate technology, 69% said yes when it comes to executing transactions, the highest approval rating in the report. Approval ratings from the Americas were lower, though, when it came to providing information about their complete financial picture (58%), delivering access to knowledge about particular investment options (57%), offering news on products and markets (53%), and demonstrating portfolio strategies (49%). Futurewealthy investors generally like the way their portfolio comes together, and how it’s reported, but they want to know more about how and why the various pieces have been selected.

Survey respondents say they want technological interaction with their advisors, from the beginning and throughout the engagement. That’s fitting, because Futurewealthy investors increasingly use technology to check out advisors before deciding to work with a particular advisor or firm.

As might be expected, an investor’s previous experience with the firm is the most crucial factor in selecting a financial provider. On a 1-to-100 scale, least to most influential, investors from the Americas gave prior experience a rating over 60. Next in order of importance, with ratings around 30, came ratings and reviews of the firm, the firm’s website,  news articles about the firm, and price comparison sites.

“A firm’s social networking presence ranked much lower, as an influence,” said Al Chiaradonna, senior vice president of SEI’s Global Wealth Services. “Our research indicates that an advisor’s blog also pays a small role. We have found, though, that a prospective client will almost always look at an advisor’s website before the first meeting. To impress clients favorably, an advisory firm’s website should be clean and simple, not overwhelming. Every survey we’ve done shows that content and usability rank first and second or second and first, in importance to clients.”

Crowe said clients will look at Internet search engines to see if the firm has been in the news. “However, using technology to work with a network of advisors such as accountants and attorneys on behalf of a client is more important,” he said. “Getting mentioned in the press will bring you a lot of calls but getting professional referrals will bring you lots of clients.”

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