Make no mistake. We as financial advisors build our reputation on deep, trusted relationships with our clients.
These relationships set us apart and enable us to offer tailored solutions that help our clients reach their financial goals. It is in our DNA and our commitment to human-centered relationships won’t change.
However, a recent survey we conducted with Morning Consult on the digital client experience showed that 95 percent of investors polled said they feel it’s important that their financial advisors use the latest technology and tools when advising them.
“Having an integrated system to process and share insights and predictions will take our industry to the next level in understanding what is important to our clients.”
-Ken Cella, Principal, Client Strategies Group
While 83 percent of survey respondents said they would prefer working with a human financial advisor rather than a robo-advisor, they also told us they wanted digital tools and technology that help them understand if they are okay financially, how they got to where they are and where they are headed.
Technology as an Enabler
Investing in powerful digital technologies is enabling Edward Jones to strengthen relationships with our more than 7 million clients and to connect with the 42 million investors we are looking to serve. As we move through our digital transformation, the personalized client experience remains our priority. For example, earlier this year we redesigned edwardjones.com with a modern new design and released a new app for clients. These digital tools allow prospective clients to learn about Edward Jones on their terms, and clients to track their goals and stay connected to their financial advisor through new communication channels.
Changing the Way We Work
Every year, millions of investors visit financial firms’ digital platforms because they are seeking a financial advisor relationship. In a recent survey among visitors and investors on www.edwardjones.com,19 percent say that relatability is important to them and 31 percent say that understanding the financial advisor’s approach to advice and investment strategy matters most. It’s clear investors also want to know more about the financial advisor’s areas of focus (21%) and level of experience (28%).
Recognizing the important role technology can play in building and fostering new client relationships, we developed a custom, web-based application called Edward Jones Match which was built to harness information that supports investors in their journey to connect with a financial advisor. Using a short digital quiz that takes a few minutes to complete, investors are instantly matched with financial advisors who have the profile, credentials and approach that matter most to them. This is the kind of personalized client experience technology can deliver. It’s just one example of what’s possible.
Having an integrated system to process and share insights and predictions will take our industry to the next level in understanding what is important to our clients. It will also enable us to better understand the needs of potential clients and help them identify the ideal financial advisor for them. I can’t think of a more powerful first impression that a prospective client could experience.
While having the technology capabilities is critical, it means nothing if we don’t change how we work and think. A digital transformation is as much about mindset and the way we work as it is about the technology itself. The way we approach prospecting and taking care of our existing clients must shift. In-person meetings, speaking engagements and other traditional prospecting strategies are now augmented with digital strategies that include platforms like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, among other off-the-shelf or proprietary offerings. It also means being available to existing clients through digital channels like text and chat and providing greater transparency and data access, empowering them and giving them more control of their financial future.
Our clients want a financial advisor who understands them and can help guide them to achieve their financial goals. That’s not changing. But the expectations our clients and prospective clients have for technology are continually evolving and we must evolve with them.