The speed at which technology in the world of financial services industry has advanced and evolved is breathtaking. Even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was engaged in a digital transformation. But, as it has in so many industries, the pandemic sped up the timetable for adaptation.
Evidence of that movement can be seen in the results Edward Jones’s multiyear, $500 million investment to modernize our technology and deliver differentiated business capabilities. It began in 2018 and today we’re seeing strong returns from that investment.
In 2021, for instance, more than 2.5 million people visited us online and roughly six in 10 of our financial advisors adopted the most popular of our Virtual Business Enablement tools, including custom web pages and our social media management platform.
Ultimately, however, it’s important that digital tools act as a complement to what our financial advisors have always done—build deep, personal relationships with clients. In a recent Edward Jones client survey, more than four in five respondents noted they would prefer to work with a human financial advisor, compared to just 17% who said they would prefer consulting a robo-advisor. To that end, our technology initiative has created tools that aim to streamline processes and maximize efficiency to enable our financial advisors to spend high-quality time with clients and enable greater connectivity between the branch teams and clients. The tools have not only helped attract new clients to the firm, but enhanced the experience for our existing ones. Here are some specifics.
Enhancing the client experience
In addition to phone calls, emails, written communication and in-person meetings, we now connect with investors through social media. Since launching in 2021, about two-thirds of our nearly 19,000 financial advisors are communicating with clients and meeting prospective clients on our new social media management platform and they have already shared content more than two million times, with 6.7 million unique engagements. In 2021, our redesigned website, EdwardJones.com, has seen a 38% increase in organic sessions compared to the end of 2020.
“It’s important that digital tools act as a complement to what our financial advisors have always done—build deep, personal relationships with clients.”
-Richard Yang, Principal, Client Attraction Group
Boosting advisor success
Webinar Hub, launched in July 2020, offers engaging, interactive online events. Created and delivered by the Edward Jones Home Office, Webinar Hub makes it easy for financial advisors to invite and engage prospective clients and current clients to uncover new opportunities to serve their needs. Nearly 70% of our financial advisors are using the Webinar Hub to reach far bigger audiences than they could have reached in-person and participation data aids their follow-up. Attendance at the sessions has soared more than 700% since the beginning of the pandemic.
Attracting new clients
Two tools aimed at potential clients are also making a difference. Starting Point and My Priorities, quizzes that can be found on the website, let prospective clients identify their most important financial goals and then translate those goals into an overall financial strategy. Both tools allow Edward Jones create personalized links between the prospective client and a branch office. We’ve found that clients who engaged with Starting Point converted at a faster pace than those who did not. With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, more than 7,000 of our financial advisors can identify prospective clients through shared connections. In all cases, the tools create more touch points to attract new clients and deepen our relationships from the start.
Notably, the digital transformation at our firm has been, in part, driven by our clients, who both need and expect such enhanced experiences. In a recent Edward Jones survey on the digital client experience, 95% of investors said it’s important that their financial advisors use the latest technology and tools when advising them. And it’s not just young investors who feel this way—clients of all ages (18-65 years old) have heightened expectations in this area.
As the public appetite for digital tools continues to increase, financial advisors must remain committed to giving investors what they want, while continuing to preserve what has always lay at the heart of our business—human relationships.
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