In the face of the 24-hour news cycle and other noise vying for their attention, clients today rely on financial advisors not just for investment experience but to clear away the clutter and stick to a plan that will help them achieve their financial goals. Like clients, advisors need to protect themselves from the effects of information overload. With so much client data at their fingertips, how can advisors harness its power to deliver better service? The answer is smart automation.

From the client’s perspective, they need two things: First, a consistent flow of information and open communication. And second, to feel they’re receiving personal service and proactive guidance when it’s necessary. Meeting these expectations consistently for all clients would be nearly impossible for advisors without technology-based, “smart” automation.

“Thanks to our automated functionality, we’ve been able to not only keep up with what our clients need, but have more tailored discussions with them,” says Eva Moulton, a financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial.

Smart automation simply means systems are integrated and share information at a deeper level, giving an advisor a more complete picture of the client and more opportunities to demonstrate their practice’s value. This capability:

1. Consolidates client insights

At many firms, information is siloed in separate systems. Without context or the ability to understand relationships between this data, it’s difficult to recognize, categorize or act on. Also, when data that’s been plugged into disconnected systems isn’t pulled together into one view, it’s hard to know where incomplete or outdated information might exist.

An example of actionable data would be: You have two clients in the Smith household, and your system triggers four notifications:

1. John Smith’s IRA contribution is not yet maxed out.
2. The Smith household is missing a beneficiary on two accounts.
3. Jane Smith’s signature is needed for a qualified managed account disclosure.
4. The service center recently received a call from the Smith household to move $10,000 from its accounts.

In this example, smart automation compiles these insights, prioritizes them (must-do vs. informational) and puts them into context. The result: Your team can act on the data to better serve the client.

2. Enables you to go mobile

Since clients are increasingly mobile, you should be, too.

For many clients, mobile-enabled messaging has taken the place of phone calls as the preferred form of communication. And with mobile technology comes the expectation of quick, personal responses. Clients also expect to be able to transfer documents and sign them electronically. In financial services, these messaging and sharing capabilities must comply with industry regulations.

Smart automation allows you to organize messages, respond immediately or delegate the follow-up to your team and store a copy for books and records. Client touchpoints can be tracked, giving you visibility into who you’ve contacted recently and who you haven’t, which helps you manage and improve the customer experience.

For advisors to quickly respond to clients, a drip communications tool with personalized digital content is key. But cloud-based, compliant access to client information and documents from anywhere is essential.

What’s next?

Once workflow rules are defined and data is aggregated, systems can be designed to run intelligently without intervention. With this type of model, a great deal of information is readily available, but you can narrow it down by searching (through keyboard or speech input). For example: “Show me clients with a stock position over $10K with a cost basis of negative 10% or more.” Like advisors, clients will have access to this same type of capability.

Clients' ability to easily interpret this information is still a concern, so systems must make it clear when a client is still “in the green” based on decisions made with the advisor. Thresholds and processes should be established to initiate automated communication to the client before they begin to worry about trajectory. Designing systems to not only inform but to educate is critical to delivering what clients want and expect.

“Most of the tools I use every day let me log in with one username and password. Plus, I can follow a client’s information across systems whether it be financial planning, investment management or portfolio reports to review with clients,” says Jason Plank, a private wealth advisor with Ameriprise Financial. “The seamless experience provided by the Ameriprise technology platform gives me a competitive edge.”

As clients’ expectations of advisors evolve, there's an opportunity for advisors who operate at scale and provide high-value services. This starts with applying smart automation to better control and understand the data available to them.

This type of technology is about systems helping, guiding and — where possible — doing things for you. You shouldn’t need to worry whether you are using each available tool to its full capacity. Instead, they should be integrated, automated and working on your behalf without the need for time-consuming training.

Learn more about what Ameriprise technology can offer your practice at joinameriprise.com.

Learn more about what Ameriprise technology can offer your practice at joinameriprise.com.

Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC.
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