Digital transformation for financial planners

Ryan Forsythe, Content Marketing Specialist, Moxo

While some sectors have been slower to innovate than others, you’d be hard-pressed to find any that’s escaped the rising tide of digital disruption. Modern technology continues to change the way we shop and work, and businesses are under constant pressure to keep up.

Financial planning firms are no exception. They, too, have been implementing innovative technologies and strategies to power their digital transformations. These new systems have proven crucial for acquiring and obtaining new clients to whom reliability, speed, and service quality are key drivers of purchase decisions.

So, what can you do to modernize your financial planning firm and keep up with the constant pace of change? These tips will help set you on the right path:

#1. Embrace the era of remote work

Remote work is nothing new, but as the Covid-19 pandemic has proven, many companies weren’t nearly as prepared for it as they could have been. Financial Planning firms, particularly those which were accustomed to meeting clients in person, were hit especially hard. Furthermore, employees suddenly had to vacate their offices and work from home, often struggling to make do with email as their only way to connect with their colleagues.

These days, businesses can take administrative and other office roles online. But it’s not just about adapting to the current crisis – it’s also a proven way to reduce operational costs, boost productivity, and assist employees in achieving a better work/life balance.

#2. Put privacy and security first

Digital technologies have given rise to a raft of new risks and opportunities alike when it comes to information security and privacy. More than ever, financial planning firms depend on their abilities to demonstrate an impeccable track record when it comes to client confidentiality. After all, no one wants to do business with a law firm, bank, or wealth-management consultancy if they can’t do so in confidence.

Privacy and security should be integral to any digital transformation, rather than simply being tacked on later. Every client interaction and digital workspace must be secure and auditable.

#3. Provide a mobile-friendly customer portal

Today’s often busy and fast-pace schedules demand seamless customer experiences which deliver a high quality of service quickly. The last thing clients want to do is pick up the phone, send an email or wait for something to arrive in the post. Instead, they want an immersive and efficient experience that helps them achieve their goals without any unnecessary friction and delays. Moreover, many interactions between financial planning firms and their clients now happen on the small screen, hence the growing need to accommodate mobile users.

A one-stop customer portal, which offers an optimized experience on both mobile devices and the desktop, simplifies client interactions and keeps things orderly. For example, a client portal might offer secure messaging, video meetings, digital signage, and document-sharing, thus doing away with the unnecessary complexities of email and other platforms.

#4. Integrate your digital workflows

No digital transformation is without its challenges, and there are various common pitfalls you need to watch out for. One of these is so-called technology bloat, whereby you end up using far more products and platforms than you really need. In the enterprise, software-as-a-service (SaaS) stacks can get so complex that it becomes near impossible to address challenges with things like compliance and information governance. Much of the time, this is a result of using a technology architecture that doesn’t sit well with your existing data and systems.

Every organization has a unique set of tools, processes, and priorities. User experiences for both clients and employees alike must be tailored to unique business roles and workflows. It’s also important to establish an integrated architecture that works seamlessly with both your on-premises and cloud-hosted systems.

#5. Don’t neglect business continuity

Much like information privacy and security, business continuity must be integral to your entire digital strategy. But it’s also much harder to ensure the safety of your digital assets if you don’t have complete oversight over your workflows. In the age of the cloud, digital assets often end up spread across a huge array of different platforms and devices. Interactions between clients and employees and between employees themselves become difficult, or even impossible, to track. And, if something goes wrong, the operational disruption can be severe.

It’s much easier to ensure business continuity when you have full administrative oversight over your internal teams and client interactions. Regardless of whether you’re using a private cloud, a public cloud, an on-premises service, or a hybrid environment, you need a way to centrally manage, secure, and back up your systems and data.

#6. Do more with your data

Data-driven decision-making is one of the key areas of digital transformation. Every interaction that happens in the digital space leaves an auditable trail of data. Not only does this provide full oversight over security, privacy, and compliance – it also reveals valuable insights to help you deliver greater value. For example, by capturing the location, device, and time for every interaction that takes place through your client portal, you can pinpoint issues faster, prioritize response times, and reveal opportunities for improvement.

Data analytics can also empower smarter decision-making and automate routine processes. This cuts out a great deal of the administrative workload, freeing up time for your employees to focus on the client interactions that demand a human touch.

#7. Plan for future change

There are many misconceptions about digital transformation. One of them is that it involves doing away with the old and rolling out new technologies as quickly as possible. But that’s not necessarily the case. There’s a lot more to digital strategy than modernization and overcoming technological obsolescence. It’s a journey rather than a destination, not least because of the way technology constantly evolves and change, along with the changing customer habits that go with it.

Every new technology should serve as an extension to your existing digital strategy. You also need to prepare for future change by adopting a scalable and adaptable approach. Continuous improvement, empowered by the flexibility of SaaS solutions, help prepare your financial planning firm for the known challenges of today and the unknown ones of tomorrow.

#8. Deliver a OneStop customer experience

Today’s consumers demand speed and simplicity. They’re used to ordering everything from taxis to takeaways with just a few taps. They can check their bank balances in seconds through their mobile apps. They can shop online from any internet-connected device without having to step outside the comfort of home. The list goes on.

Customers relish the convenience of having everything in one place and readily accessible without ever having to leave the app. That’s why you should treat digital strategy as a virtual branch of your organization, with the all-in-one capabilities of a physical high-street office or store.