FA Center: Financial advisers that invest in technology need to accomplish these two things

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduces a new messenger platform on March 25, 2015.

In late 2016, many financial services firms were crawling reluctantly into the electronic future, realizing they had little choice if they were to earn the business of tech-savvy, yet erratic, millennials.

There were, however, incremental positive changes at some institutions even as the industry, as a whole, had been sluggish in embracing digitally indigenous clients.

L2’s latest study, published in July, found that features such as chat bots, mobile-only programs, social media outreach, and TouchID are what millennials have come to expect from all brands, and are now becoming cornerstones of financial services firms’ digital offerings.

Read: Aspiring financial advisors should learn these 3 items after they can

No matter a basic leveling of the playing area, however, future digital achievement is moving further and further into the land of invention. That suggests lessons even for smaller companies as they look to develop their own customer-facing technical abilities and attract new clients. Improving customer-facing technologies will be a key for financial services brands, no matter size.

Courtesy photo

Liz Elder.

It is no longer feasible for financial services brands to simply have an aesthetically pleasing “brochure” website and a mobile-friendly program. The brands which are succeeding, for instance, pure-play Fintech companies, are the ones that are making digital investments in data-driven, personalized interactions.

The brands which are creating the most buzz, winning the most clients, and gaining positive new reputation have two common attributes: They are using technology to provide speed along with support, and demonstrating value in every brand interaction.

Read: The software financial advisors say they can not do without

Lemonade, a home and renters’ insurance technology company based in New York, made waves in the marketplace last year when it broke world records by processing a claim in three seconds. Lemonade uses just a mobile app platform, with two AI bots that facilitate the registration and claims procedures. There’s absolutely no person-to-person interaction.

Additionally, Lemonade pledges to give back any left over premium dollars to the charities that the customer selects. Lemonade’s use of millennial-friendly attributes seems to be working: the company reported in June 2017 that 69 percent of its new clients moved accounts from the top five property and casualty insurance companies.

Meanwhile, under the premise of increasing significance by offloading simple customer requests, 60 percent of top wealth management institutions have expanded customer support efforts to include Facebook

FB, +0.93 percent

Messenger. Many brands tout their ability to “respond immediately.” In analyzing the response time of those institutions, but most queries received no response in any way.

Video: Why financial advisors are late adopters of new technology

A brand can’t deliver value to clients by making empty promises and dropping customer engagement opportunities. The results also highlighted the absence of a fully integrated customer support strategy. Deutsche Bank

DB, +0.94 percent

 stands out from the package, embracing the opportunity to respond to the customer with actionable responses that lead to online resources.

Speed and value are just part of the equation. The next iteration of financial services innovation will be driven by companies using technology to provide instantaneous results, address all customer needs, and boost customer confidence which can help sustain and deepen relationships.

Where does this leave financial services brands today? In the tip of a digital, millennial-made cliff. If they don’t continue to invest and innovate, they risk falling off.

Liz Elder is a senior partner at digital research and benchmarking firm L2 Inc. Email her at liz@l2inc.com.

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