Why Advisers should be thinking digital

By Kaavya Dijendranath

Updated on Thursday, 21 January, 2016

It’s 2016 and the digital information age is truly upon us – from buying pet insurance to ethical funds, investors don’t have to stretch beyond their mobile phones to buy financial products or dabble in investment markets.

Financial innovators (or digital disrupters, depending on your point of view) have cashed in and offer the digitally hungry profit seeker a plethora of cutting-edge solutions including Direct to Consumer (D2C) platforms, guided investment solutions, comparison websites and online advice services to name a few. Investors now enjoy unprecedented convenience thanks to large scale digitisation of the personal finance industry, from online mortgage applications to online banking. Research from the CACI (Consolidated Analysis Center, Incorporated) for the British Bankers Association showed that UK customers downloaded banking apps onto their mobiles on 22.9million occasions in Q1 of 2015 – a rise of 8.2 million in just one year.

So what does this all mean for a typical Financial Adviser? Put simply, client expectation.
Especially so for the generation Y or the much talked about ‘millennials’ – a generation who with pension freedoms and auto enrolment are more accumulation aware and likely to be looking for professional guidance by paying directly for financial advice from the outset. A white paper published by technology provider SSP in 2015, found that 49% of UK professionals who took part in their study said they would consider paying for financial advice that was delivered online. In stark contrast 89% of the Advisers surveyed serviced their customers face-to-face or over the phone - highlighting that a majority of Advisers in the UK preferred to service clients through traditional channels despite the strong demands towards digitalisation.

So how does one tame the digital beast? Going digital begins with careful thinking and planning of your digital strategy. Put simply, an effective digital strategy will and should help you achieve predetermined goals through the clever use of new media. Below are a few ideas to get you thinking...

Extension of your proposition: A bold place to start would be to think about digital innovation; looking at how you can extend your proposition online to win new customers and/or better engage customers with small to medium portfolio pots. It’s worth mentioning at this point that there are quite few forward thinking firms that have successfully embraced this big step and good example is Chapter Financial Planning, who have launched a fully online financial planning website called SaidSo.co.uk. After 30 years of working in more traditional firms, Keith Churchouse, founded the service as a means of embracing modern technology with a simplified fee based advice service.

Website: Full blown innovation can be quite demanding in terms of resources required and time invested. Your firm’s website could provide just enough potential to get you started on an enhanced digital journey. A simple yet effective manner to enhance your website is through the inclusion of a client portal with secure gated entry. Copying from personal/online banking – the portal could provide up-to-date data, factsheets and comparisons etc. of your models, recommended fund panels and bespoke portfolios. The client portal largely improves transparency in the delivery of your proposition and communication with clients. For the investor, this translates into the ability/freedom to stay on top of their investments and be better informed.

Content is king: You don’t have to wait till your first meeting to make an impression on your prospective customer – if your website is filled with carefully curated relevant content it can help your business connect better with prospects and demonstrate ongoing care for clients. The content can be in the form company news, thought leadership, investment guides, videos, RSS feeds and more. Yellowtail financial planning is good example of a firm who take their content production seriously – their blog and resource section features comprehensive, timely articles.

Pertinent content can also do you a lot of favours for your SEO (search engine optimisation). Research published on a recent Kurtosys blog post shows that 89% of consumers begin the buying process with a search engine. It is extremely important to pay attention to your digital tags to be able to gain visibility amongst prospective investors. It is highly recommended to use the services of an SEO specialist, failing that a good plugin like Yoast can provide you with the necessary fields to focus on like ‘’focus keyword’’ and ‘’meta-description’’ to name a few.

Going social: Investors, Advisers, planners, regulators – at the end of the day, are all human and seek intelligent human interaction. Going social with Twitter and LinkedIn can help your personality shine through and increase the quantity and quality of client touch points. Going social is also key whilst thinking about your networking strategy – as it opens up opportunities for you to interact with providers, other Advisers and to generally put your finger on the pulse of the industry. Lee Robertson of Investment Quorum with over 1000 followers is one of the most prolific Advisers on Twitter – consistently engaging with clients, industry peers and the financial news media.

Feeling inspired?
Contact us at enquiries@financialexpess.net to find out how FE Analytics+ Digital can add value to your service.