New data from Vitality has revealed 89% of independent financial advisers (IFAs) are using some new form of technology as a result of Covid-19, with many of these changes likely to become permanent as we emerge from the pandemic.
Ross Laurie, CEO, Visible Capital, commented, “Within the financial services world, the pandemic has hastened the demise of face to face meetings and paper chasing fact finding. It has seen an increase in demand for digitisation by clients, some of whom became converts to digital processes during the last 12 months, and an acceleration of demand from advisers to speed up the cumbersome process.
More than half (54%) of IFAs had to reassess the technological capabilities of their business since the arrival of Covid-19 and now three quarters (74%) say that video conferencing will remain in some capacity, 28% still expect to host/attend virtual events, and just under 1 in 4 (23%) expect to use email in ways they hadn’t before.
With technology playing a more prominent role in advisers’ everyday business lives over the past year, the pandemic has also led them to consider how it could help improve their business models. More than half (56%) say that cashflow modelling tools (which include life expectancy) would help to improve their ability to manage customer outcomes, while better integration of back office tech (40%) and better and faster onboarding (28%) would enable them to generate greater efficiencies – ultimately allowing them to provide a better service to their clients.
With increasing use of online portals to interact with providers and more IFAs now advising their clients remotely, top of the priority list when using this technology were paperless processes, with nearly half (45%) citing this as important, followed by level of service (39%) and security (37%).
Justin Taurog, Managing Director of VitalityInvest said: “It’s clearly been an extraordinary year where every business has had to adapt and accelerate their use of technology as never before. Financial advisers are no exception, and while traditionally conversations would be rarely anything but face to face, IFAs now tell us they are increasingly moving to communicating with their clients online on a more permanent basis. What’s more, taking a digital approach to managing their clients’ money is becoming more common and they welcome the ability to interact with providers on digital platforms.”
Chris Green, Managing Director of SG Financial Services said: “The pandemic has forced many advisers to reassess their technological capabilities, and for us, the changes we’ve made have become central to our business model.
“Clients are now expecting more in terms of technology, and the integration of digital tools such as Vitality’s Adviser Hub, has allowed us to efficiently and effectively manage our clients’ money and provide them with a fantastic service – which is absolutely integral to what we do.”
Ross Laurie, added, “Advisers are reporting that, in terms of digital transformation, first and foremost they want data collation automated, securely and accurately, so they can get their customers onboarded and suitability assessed, quickly and efficiently. This then allows them to get on with using their skills to build relationships, develop products and strategies and grow their portfolios and businesses. Equally, advisers report that their customers want the tedious manual data collection out the way so that they can talk with their financial adviser about their investments.
“Covid-19 may well be seen to have had a significant impact in accelerating the digital transformation across our industry, but it’s advisers and their clients who are leading the transformation by identifying how technology can enhance the day to day aspects of delivering exceptional wealth management services. And it’s this partnership between advisers, clients and technology that is really going to shape both the way we think and the way we do business.”