Partner, The Customer Effect

Widening access to financial advice in the face of uncertainty

  • Consumers across generations are concerned about their current financial situations, highlighting the need for wider access to wealth management and financial advisory tools.
  • Advisors have a significant opportunity to help more people and grow, but they must first turn to modern technology and embrace a hybrid approach.

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Widening access to financial advice in the face of uncertainty

By Jennifer Valdez, president of the Americas, intelliflo

As a potential recession looms, consumers across the country are examining their financial fitness more closely. And 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 plan given the state of the U.S. economy.

The unease is not unique to one age group; 81% of Millennials, 75% of Gen X, and 64% of Gen Z said they are concerned about their current financial situation. This proves that people across generations need wider access to wealth management and financial advisory tools to help them optimize their money and identify and work toward goals. 

Americans need guidance in many areas. Paying down/off debt (28%), retirement planning (26%) and investing/portfolio management (24%) are the top three topics in which Americans say they need the most professional help. And as younger generations start to accumulate wealth and stand to inherit significant assets over the next decade, it’s no surprise that these groups feel the need for more professional advice; 80% of Gen Z and 84% of Millennials indicated there are areas with which they need professional help when it comes to their finances. 

Even though the need for financial guidance is becoming more urgent and widespread, many registered financial advisors struggle to take on new clients without adding costly resources. To effectively meet the growing demand for advice while also delivering the convenient, personalized digital experiences consumers expect, advisers need to leverage technology to meet the growing demand for financial advice. 

The current financial advisory technology landscape is fraught with fragmentation, full of endless point solutions that don’t integrate well with one another, which is detrimental to both innovation and the client experience. Plus, siloed systems lead to inefficiencies, ultimately reducing the number of clients a single advisor can effectively serve. 

To break the constraints of a myriad of bespoke features, it’s time to embrace an open, cloud-based platform approach. Advisors should consider single platforms that span the comprehensive advisory lifecycle, providing a centralized ecosystem for both advisors and clients. They should prioritize platforms that leverage open APIs and enable seamless integrations to third parties of choice. The strategic use of modern technology to digitize and automate tasks can enhance internal efficiencies, reduce costs and free up time to grow their client base. 

Just as the technology strategy must change, so too should the advisor’s philosophy. Not all clients can – or should – be high touch; it’s simply not feasible from a time and money perspective. Instead, a hybrid advice model can help bridge the current financial advice gap. Such a model encompasses an intentional mix of human and digital elements, offering digitally optimized and self-service tools for those earlier in the financial lifecycle while saving the majority of advisor time for more sophisticated conversations and needs. A hybrid advice model, coupled with a robust product suite, allows advisors to better meet the needs of clients across all stages. 

As people continue to try and improve their financial health in the face of economic uncertainty, advisors have a significant opportunity to provide sound guidance to existing clients as well as to those who have traditionally hesitated to reach out for professional help. However, to effectively do so will require a move toward a hybrid strategy, using cloud-based technology to free up advisor time and resources. Leaning on modern tools for support, advisors will be well positioned to grow revenue, expand relationships and widen access to advice. 

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