One of the most interesting aspects of working in user experience is the opportunity to observe the way technology disrupts and re-shapes behaviors and relationships in business. This is particularly true in the financial services sector, where the advisor/client relationship continues to evolve as financial tools and information become more widely accessible to consumers.
Prior to the proliferation of consumer portfolio management tools and investing resources, only the most financially savvy and ambitious among us actively managed their finances. More commonly, this responsibility was left to a trusted, professional financial advisor. While many still rely on advisors, the role of those advisors is changing. Events such as the Great Recession and highly publicized investment fraud scandals have been catalysts for many consumers to take the reins of their own portfolios.
In the course of our research with investors and advisors, we’ve identified a few of the ways that market volatility and technological advances are influencing the way advisors adapt to the changing expectations of their clients.
Here are four UX trends changing customer experience in the financial services industry:
- Advisors are financial content curators. There is an overwhelming number of articles, blogs, webinars, broadcasts, social media tweets and posts on investing. Even if investors are not relying on their advisor to discover and research investment information like they did in years past, they are relying on him or her to curate information that is relevant to them. For investors who may find an interesting investment opportunity or strategy, they are still looking to their advisors to put this opportunity into context to understand if it is genuinely a good fit for their overall investing goals.
- Virtual meeting spaces and screen-sharing are the new face-to-face experience. Although face-to-face discussions are still preferred to build trust, relationships, and encourage honest communication, it’s not always possible for investors. Increasingly, financial advisors are connecting with investors utilizing online face-to-face communications and screen sharing tools to discuss goals or evaluate their portfolio.
- Tablets are facilitating quick decision-making. More and more financial advisors use tablets to aid in their client discussions in addition to bringing physical materials. Their tablet turns into a portable library, with graphics that convey important investment and market information, as well as real-time status updates. Tablets are a tool for advisors to provide quick, in the moment answers to any questions from their investors.
- Investment firms that equip their advisors with smart data tools increase investor loyalty. Many advisors have cited increased pressure to respond to ad hoc client inquiries triggered by market events. While information overload is a challenge for the average consumer, advisors are expected to quickly assimilate vast amounts of information and to understand changes in the marketplace so that they can assuage concerns or fears of their clients. To the extent that their tools or resources are able to facilitate this by providing thought leadership or “client ready” materials, this enables advisors to deepen trust with clients by helping to navigate through challenging times.
These trends are a handful of many trends we've noticed. There are plenty of ways financial services companies can use technology to create excellent customer experiences by empowering their financial advisors to address client’s needs and be more successful.