Once upon a time, financial advisors welcomed every new client to their doorsteps with a big warm smile and a thick pile of forms to fill in. That meant advisors often spent time doing tedious administrative tasks instead of actually making deep and meaningful connections with their clients.
From keying in repetitive basic information, chasing after them for a miss-typed phone number, making sure all the documents are in good order, you name it; advisors had to do it all.
Nowadays, with workflow digitization solutions present at almost every corner of the wealth management industry, advisors are more and more comfortable delegating those manual tasks to technology.
We’ve mapped together advisors' and automation experts’ opinions on the journey of adopting digital automated workflows; the past, the present and the future from our latest e-book “In Pursuit of Efficiency: Working with Technology to De-paper Wealth Management Processes” released in early 2022.
This is to draw a complete picture of advisors’ experience throughout the process and learn how firms achieved their competitive advantage by increasing both their employees’ and end customers’ satisfaction.
Did you know that advisors spend 60-70% of their time on non-advisory tasks? This is because most of them still work with legacy IT systems or sometimes even worse, spreadsheets. Not surprisingly, out of the 53 advisors that we surveyed in the e-book, most agree that these non-revenue-generating activities cause inefficiency.
“Transactional communication with clients takes time away from doing deep advisory work,” — Survey respondent.
To make matters worse, firms that still require wet signatures find themselves creating friction between advisors and clients. Not only is it super time-consuming, but it also shows potential customers that firms are not making enough effort to be innovative and are still “stuck” with outdated systems.
Making clients think that your system is outdated is a thing, but involving them in those legacy systems is another story.
“We had some clients who didn’t have access to a printer anymore. They had in the past relied on their office printers… That led to us either having to wait until they got access to a printer or mailing out documents via snail mail”
There’s no doubt that mailing documents should no longer be an option for correspondence since it can take up to 4 business days for each delivery. Especially now with more and more compliance requirements regarding user access, these manual processes risk serious data breaches and can damage the company’s reputation.
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for advisors to keep up with new compliance requirements while paying close attention to their client relationships. Therefore, many technology solutions like digital vaults were created to provide a balance between being compliant and doing advisory activities.
When searching for a solution, look for certain signs indicating that the provider cares about protecting your data and meeting compliant standards. Some rigorous compliance certificates include SOC 2 - Type 1 and 2, ISO 27001, Adobe Approved Trust List, and many more.
Adopting technology is definitely a win-win for financial managers and companies after successfully implementing automated solutions. The Royal Bank of Canada estimates that e-signatures alone save them approximately $8M per year in administrative costs. (According to the E-book)
These innovations also make advisors’ lives easier by completely eliminating a considerable part of their day wasted on boring administrative tasks. Human-made and unavoidable errors are also radicated thanks to automated grammar checks and pre-populated data.
“From manually keying in data on documents to having [the system] actually pull all the documents needed and have them auto-populate! That reduces errors and repetition which translates into time savings.” - Advisor Anecdote
Imagine what advisors could do with all this data recorded and secured in an easy-to-access file. Keeping track of countless holidays and special occasions, and sending and resending documents for annual refresh has never been easier.
“Digital onboarding is great, but once you have the data in your system, you can do a lot more than you could before. With technology, you have the client’s IPS, objectives, horizon, tolerances, and ID all on file and codified. There are all kinds of opportunities to grow your top-line revenue with technology.”
This will ultimately lift the burden off advisors’ shoulders and give them more time to focus on what actually matters. Nurturing a deep and meaningful relationship with clients should always be the providers’ number one priority. When done right, not only does it help loyal customers stick around longer, but it also generates new referrals and prospects.
With the revised KYC guidelines released by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) in 2021, a more well-rounded onboarding process is highly required. To be more specific, IIROC determined that investors’ interest in investing in accordance with ESG criteria and other personal preferences should be discussed and included in wealth managers’ KYC questions.
This requires providers to conduct more value-based and holistic conversations with their clients right from the get-go in order to fully understand their values and goals.
Automation is the right answer to enhance KYC practices. In fact, a recent Advisor360° survey shows that advisors’ biggest challenge is the lack of automation and streamline internal operating systems.
“Two-thirds (67%) of advisors spent two hours or more generating reporting for client meetings, and 25% of those advisors considered client onboarding processes a significant constraint.” (David Reeve, Investment Executive). Technology that can eliminate these tasks will free advisors up and give them back the time to take care of their clients.
It is 100% true that data is the new resource and it is never too late to start gathering and leveraging this “pure gold”, especially now that the process to do so has never been easier with digital solutions and tools.
Client onboarding is an area of focus for advisors who are thinking about going digital. Often because this is typically an onerous task, but also the first interaction with a new client. Automating this first impression can make things smoother for the investor.
New investors will definitely appreciate the lack of friction because the manual process can feel intimidating, time-consuming and inconvenient.
Adopting modern and easy-to-use software that makes advisors’ lives easier will also help firms attain and attract new wealth management talents. In this digital age where everything is hybrid, it is absolutely necessary to keep up-to-date and use technology as a competitive advantage.