Female advisor Businesswoman meeting with couple to sign financial contract

We’ve been hearing about the wealth-management industry’s digital transformation for years now. Yet, there’s still a long way to go as the promise of digital innovation has not been fully realized.

Although many wealth-management firms are investing in technology to reduce costs, boost efficiencies and support their advisors in delivering more engaging client experiences, we continue to lag other industries. Between the challenges of legacy technologies and the reality of implementing massive changes, we’re not nearly caught up to the technological ease other customer-facing industries provide.

Wealth-management firms’ investments in technology will undoubtedly continue, but we’re in the midst of a gradual rather than rapid evolution. In fact, a recent study from Forrester shows that client experience metrics at wealth-management firms have remained flat for the third year in a row. As a result, the report warns about “a dangerous gap in customers’ sense of emotional engagement and loyalty” with their firms.

Currently, the complex onboarding process, requirements around regular “know your client” updates and the way we provide information to clients often take too long. So, it’s up to advisors to bridge the gap between where we are at today and the promised land of digital transformation.

Here are some ways advisors can make necessary processes less cumbersome and more understandable for clients:

> Focus on the outcome, not the process
Admittedly, there are many processes to contend with. Instead of painfully filling out forms, use each required process as an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with clients about what’s important to them.

> Don’t play the blame game
Avoid blaming your dealer firm or regulators for the complicated process. Explain that the process is designed to protect your clients and to ensure that their investments are appropriate for their needs.

> Speak about what matters to your clients
Behavioural economics teaches us that we should focus on what matters to our clients. So, instead of spending time reviewing the details of your clients’ portfolios, help them articulate their goals and understand whether they’re on track to meet them. After all, it turns out that details around investments are more important to us than they are to most of our clients.

> Support your clients through digital adoption
We’ve all heard that clients are intimidated by the massive amount of paper reports they receive. These reports are complicated and it’s difficult for clients to find the information they really want.

In the hopes of alleviating these concerns, advisors usually will steer clients to electronic delivery once it’s available. It turns out, though, that emailing clients to let them know that their account information is on a portal somewhere isn’t much more useful.

Clients forget their passwords or find logging in to be a hassle — and the electronic reports are frequently just as confusing as the paper-based ones.

Although this could be a barrier to client engagement, it’s still wise to encourage digital adoption. But check in with your clients to ensure they’re able to view and understand their electronic reports.

> Leverage technology where you can
To free up your time for more valuable interactions with your clients, leverage marketing automation and advisor productivity tools to send personalized messages. These interactions will help you cement relationships and could serve to uncover other client needs you could help fulfil.