Big tech is great but advisers are sweating the small stuff, says NextWealth

Digital systems and virtual communications have proved invaluable during the pandemic but greater use of technology is currently not saving advisers time or money, according to research carried out by NextWealth.

NextWealth's MD, Heather Hopkins, says: "When researching for our most recent Adviser Tech Stack report we found that it takes an average of three to four weeks to onboard a new client, at a cost of around GBP1500 and this is across all advice firms, regardless of size."

On a recent NextWealth Advice Tech Live webinar, Jennifer Ellis, Director of Wellington Wealth said that despite starting the business with a tech-first approach, they've had to set up 42 different operations to transact with providers so the dream of a smooth end-to-end tech enabled solution is not being realised.

Jennifer Ellis says: "Having to deal with so much software that has different functionality adds complexity in terms of training and is a drain on our time and resources. I'd love to see the industry work together to understand what will make processes easier for advisers and end clients."

Adrian Murphy, CEO of Murphy Wealth is a big advocate of technology for driving business forward, particularly during the pandemic but he shares the frustration of the lack of joined-up processes.

Murphy comments: "The whole of the financial services industry needs to work together to ensure end clients benefit from the great potential that technology has to offer. The past year has clearly demonstrated the power of digital as a hugely positive communications enabler, but we still have a long way to go on integrations and collaboration to achieve the types of cost and efficiency savings that would make a significant difference to total cost of advice."

Another area that advisers agree on is the diminishing use of email in favour of secure messaging via adviser portals.

Murphy says: "When I look at communication with clients over the past 12 months, email has become the least useful tool out of all the channels we have. It's just too impersonal. Our client portal has come into its own. Since last March, we have changed the tone of our communications in an attempt to connect emotionally rather than practically. As a result, we've seen a significant increase in client interaction via the portal, enabling us to keep connected to our existing clients and helping us to grow the business."

While the financial services industry is well served by tech innovators, Adrian Murphy believes advisers should look beyond what the specialists are offering and seek advice of technology experts who know what's available to help drive business forward.

"As advisers we are bombarded by new FinTech software proposals that are "tailored for us" and promise to save us time. However, one of the most useful software packages we use – a well-known project management tool – has nothing to do with financial advice, yet it is saving us huge amounts of time and improving efficiency for general business functions. I'd suggest we look beyond what's available specifically for advisers. There's some great general tech out there that firms may find serve them better than the FinTech solutions currently on offer."

Sarah Lord, President of the Personal Finance Society believes the profession has risen to the technical challenges. She comments: "The resilience our profession has shown during this pandemic has not only been testament to the relationships that advisers have with their clients but how we have all embraced technology to support clients as best as possible during these difficult times. From using client portals to support secure communications, adapting to using video conferencing solutions for meetings and importantly driving efficiencies in the advice process. I am proud of how our profession continues to adapt and embrace change through technology."

The NextWealth Tech Stack report provides an in-depth look at adviser tech, covering market share, proposition of key providers and adviser reviews. It highlights the most important trends impacting the changing world of adviser tech covering platforms, back office systems, suitability and risk profiling, cashflow modelling and client portals.

Useful as a benchmark of adviser tech businesses against the competition, the report helps organisations to prioritise integrations and proposition developments by identifying up and coming technology trends.

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