In fact, twice as many financial professionals used mobile devices (22%)—like iPads and other tablets—compared with usage a year ago (11%), according to results in American Century Investments’ third annual “Financial Professionals Social Media Adoption Study.”
Moreton Retirement Partners has 15 iPads, which the company uses during committee meetings. Corey Whitehead, senior vice president of Moreton, told PLANADVISER he can already see a difference in client meetings and cost efficiency since the company started using iPads about 14 months ago.
Enhance Client Meetings
The iPad allows for paperless reports, which Whitehead can send to plan sponsors for review before meetings. If something comes up during a meeting that requires further research, the iPad can be a helpful tool, he added.
Client feedback was important to Moreton Retirement Partners when it started using iPads. “To our astonishment, we didn’t have a single client give us negative feedback,” Whitehead said, adding that even committee members who are not technologically savvy appreciate the iPads. Whitehead said the team offers a short iPad tutorial at the beginning of each meeting.
“There’s always a positive reaction when we walk in [with iPads], especially with new clients,” Whitehead said.
Heather McKim, senior vice president of strategy and interactive at HNW, said she thinks enhancing client meetings is one of the biggest benefits of the iPad. The device can be used for presentations, which can be projected on a larger screen, and for one-on-one planning discussions with clients. “If you can immediately show the value of the solutions you are recommending, obviously that will speed the decisionmaking process on the client’s end,” she said.
For advisers unable to hold an in-person meeting, the iPad allows for easy video conferencing and information sharing. Meeting Mngr PRO, for example, connects as many iPads as needed and projects documents on the screens. Cisco WebEx Meetings allows advisers to conduct online meetings from anywhere with two-way streaming video. Applications such as Keynote can be used for professional presentations.
McKim said some advisers remain reluctant to host remote meetings on the iPad because of possible Internet connection issues. “The adviser absolutely needs to have those conversations free of any tech issues, so I think there’s a bit of hesitation around that,” she added.
Save Money (and Trees)
Lengthy reports are paperless with the iPad, so companies can save money from decreasing printing and paper costs. They can also reduce soft-dollar costs for the meeting preparation itself because reports no longer require compilation in binders. Meeting preparation time is cut in half and human error is eliminated, like missing or misplaced pages in binders, Whitehead said. “The iPads have actually paid for themselves at this point, due to the reduction in printing and paper costs,” he added.
His company earned back the purchase price about nine months after buying eight iPads, and he said he expects the same result within the next few months with the second purchase of seven iPads. “We do a lot of meetings, though,” Whitehead said, “so that’s not going to be the [case for the] typical smaller-shop adviser.”
Clients and advisers are also pleased with the environmental benefits of the iPad, sparing paper waste from reports. “We certainly want to be more conscious of our environment, and we are involved in an industry that’s not,” Whitehead said.
With the iPad, advisers can access their work computers to look up documents. They can also edit and create documents, spreadsheets and presentations while away from the office.
Whitehead said he enjoys being able to conduct meetings for several days without returning to the office for client documents, because all folders are accessible on his iPad, with password protection.
There are some drawbacks to working on the iPad, however. Whitehead said he does not find the iPad overly efficient for tasks such as taking notes or adding events to his calendar, but he finds it very useful for viewing reports.
“The easiest way to describe the efficiencies of an iPad is they are not overly efficient for input, [but] they are very efficient for output,” he said.
Overall, McKim thinks the iPad is positively changing the way advisers conduct business. “I think these devices have the power to be transformative in this field,” she said.