Fidelity Clearing and Custody Solutions, the division of Fidelity Investments that provides clearing and custody to registered investment advisers (RIAs), retirement recordkeepers and broker/dealers, first launched its recurring “eAdviser” study in 2014.
Since then the number of advisers deeply embedding digital technology solutions into their value proposition has increased by 10%, from 30% of the adviser population in 2014 to 40% by the end of 2016. On average, this group of technology-enabled advisers are using twice as many different technologies as their peers, Fidelity explains, and they are also using these technologies more deeply and rationally within their businesses.
The stats surrounding these eAdvisers show deeper use of the latest client-facing and back-office technology is associated with higher total assets under management and assets managed per-client. At the same time, tech-committed advisers report higher satisfaction with their firm environment and career prospects than tech-indifferent advisers.
“What’s more, the study shows that eAdvisers are running their businesses in smart, strategic ways and thinking about the future,” Fidelity Clearing and Custody finds. “More than half have client segmentation strategies, versus 40% of ‘tech indifferent’ advisers, and they indicate this contributes to enhanced productivity and asset/revenue growth. eAdvisers are also more likely to be planning for the future by serving more Gen X/Gen Y clients and planning to augment their services with digital advice within the next two years.”
Tricia Haskins, vice president, practice management and consulting, Fidelity Clearing and Custody Solutions, observes that advisers who embrace technology—especially solutions to more efficiently handle tedious recurring client-service tasks—are going to be the ones who scale, grow and ultimately win.
“While there’s still a lag in adoption among many advisers, it’s less about the lack of appetite for technology, and more about not knowing where to begin,” she says. “We believe advisers who can visualize what their clients’ end experience will look like, and map technology from there, will achieve the deepest and most tangible business results.”
NEXT: Technology to tackle the tedious
The Fidelity research is packed with takeaways for advisers looking to implement tech-based practice improvements—starting with a revamped web presence. Fully 80% of high-earning Millennials say that they have a more positive impression of financial advisers who have a good website, Fidelity reports, and so maximizing the impact of online interactions is crucial. The research advocates using Google Analytics and other resources to track and optimize website traffic.
“Fidelity research shows that investors are more likely to recommend advisers who efficiently incorporate technology into their services and use it to enhance their offerings,” Haskins says. “This includes solutions like paperless tools, which investors find time-saving and more accessible.”
Matching volumes of other recent industry research, Fidelity urges advisers to consider using next-generation data aggregation tools “to show clients a complete look at their portfolio.” This is beneficial for successful goal-based planning, Fidelity says, as well as for providing ongoing advice in shifting environments.
The Fidelity research finds eAdvisers have found success sending automated email alerts for client updates and text messages regarding plan updates or administrative tasks. Many have also embraced communicating with clients via videoconferencing or online conferencing.
The full analysis is available here, including a quiz to help advisers asses how well their firm has embraced available technology.