People across the country are paying closer attention to their finances as predictions for an upcoming recession persist. This economic uncertainty, coupled with lingering financial impacts from the pandemic and rising inflation, have made many uneasy about their financial fitness.
In fact, according to a recent intelliflo survey, conducted by The Harris Poll, less than half of Americans (48%) say they are comfortable with their current financial situation given the state of the U.S. economy.
Many Americans have established banking relationships that can help them with financial planning. After all, banks are best positioned to have access to deep customer data that can help identify key indicators warranting a wealth management discussion. For example, they have access to see when a customer opens new accounts, when someone maintains a high cash balance and frequent deposits, or when a younger individual starts accruing more wealth that simply sits in a low yield account.
However, these insights are meaningless unless the technology infrastructure and required data integration are in place to properly serve customers throughout the financial advisory lifecycle. Because so many financial institutions lack budget or the resources to deliver robust support, Americans are increasingly turning to nontraditional sources, like social media or fintechs, to meet their wealth management needs. This is a missed opportunity for both banks and customers: banks miss out on deeper relationships and additional revenue streams while customers miss out on personal service from an institution that already knows them.
To fill the gap and seize this opportunity, more advisors are looking to technology to help them efficiently offer comprehensive advisory services. The challenge is that the industry has traditionally been fraught with fragmentation, filled with a collection of bespoke software from multiple vendors with limited integration, which often leads to a disjointed, inefficient customer experience. However, recently more institutions have started looking for a single platform approach, one that relies on the cloud and open APIs to facilitate seamless integrations with third parties of choice and complement and support the front, middle and back office.
Streamlining the customer experience
An all-in-one solution that provides a consistent, uninterrupted user journey will be a main priority as banks try to deliver advice in a way that is efficient, provides value to the customer, and will ultimately be profitable. However, building this type of infrastructure in house is extremely costly and time consuming; in response, many are looking to strategic technology partners that can offer this type of modern, end-to-end platform delivering on the promise of an elegant user experience.
Such technology also must meet the customer where they want to be met by providing a hybrid advice model, a strategic mix of human and digital elements that automate more surface-level interactions, enhancing efficiencies and freeing advisor time to grow their customer base. Offering self-service digital options can effectively engage customers who are often near the beginning of the financial advice cycle in a way that’s simple and doesn’t require additional resources in branch. This could be as simple yet engaging as providing a calculator embedded into a bank’s mobile app that helps users compute their financial fitness score. Or maybe it’s presenting straightforward options for investing a nominal sum of money, then adding reporting to help monitor performance. Such tools boost efficiencies and save advisor time for more high-touch, complex interactions.
There is a massive opportunity for institutions to deepen their relationships with customers and positively contribute to the bottom line through comprehensive financial advisory services. However, to do so effectively requires the right technology stack and a hybrid advice model that strategically leverages automation. Those that embrace the challenge will be well positioned to generate revenue, help customers improve their financial wellness and widen access to financial advice, a mission that has never been so critical.
Jennifer Valdez is president of the Americas for intelliflo, a leading cloud-based technology platform for financial advisors.