Why the Apathy in Client Attitudes Towards Technology By Sue Bergin

Do your clients care about the tools you use or the advice you give?

If the recent study released by SEI caught your attention, you might have a false sense that technology only aids efficiency and doesn’t impact the overall client experience.

Here are some of the statistics about clients’ perception of the technology that their advisors use:

• Over half (51%) of the advisors who responded to the survey said that clients didn’t care about the technology that the advisor used.
• 22% weren’t sure how clients felt about their technology. One can only imagine that if their clients felt strongly one way or the other, the advisor would know.
• 5% reported that clients often complained about the advisor’s technology.
• 24% of the advisors who responded to the survey were able to impress their clients with technology.

These statistics seem to suggest that clients are indifferent towards the technology. There is a plausible explanation for all of this indifference. Perhaps the advisors responding to the survey had technology that met the present-day comfort level of their current client base.

This is problematic for a few reasons. First and foremost is that clients’ comfort with technology is a moving target. At varying speeds, every demographic is embracing technology.

The more your clients shop on Amazon, Skype with their grandchildren, and rely upon Web MD for medical information, the less enchanted they will become with an advisor who uses outdated methods. The discontent probably won’t be relayed in the form of an objection about technology, but rather a complaint about response time, transparency or access to current and relevant information.

The second reason clients may find a false sense of security in the notion that their clients are comfortable with their technology is equally important, because it has to do with a firm’s growth.

An advisor’s technology platform fits the needs of her current client base, but what if he or she would like to grow his or her practice? Whenever an advisor contemplates entering a new market, he or she must evaluate tools and resources for adequacy in serving the new target.

Multigenerational planning is an instance of where technology meets the needs of a current client demographic, but is not positioned or aligned with a market extension. That is to say that the current generation may be satisfied with the status quo but, their children will be harder to placate. They will demand automation, instant gratification, and online access to everything.

The bottom line is this. “Adequate” technology goes unnoticed; the same does not hold true for “old” technology. If your systems and tools are outdated your clients will notice. They will complain. Eventually, they will leave.

SEI Advisor Network Technology Integration Survey Findings, July 2012

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